As the Saints prepared to leave Nauvoo, Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve attempted to lease the Nauvoo Temple and sell other Church properties in order to finance the trip west. They hoped to sell the temple and the majority of the buildings to the Catholic Church, but the two groups could not come to an agreement. When Brigham Young left the city, Almon Babbitt, Joseph Heywood, and John Fullmer were left behind to act as trustees. Their difficult task was to settle debts, find purchasers for private properties, sell public buildings and other properties owned by the Church, and to find an appropriate leasor for the temple. They entered into several negotiations to sell or lease the temple, but a satisfactory arrangement was difficult to reach. The trustees were also hampered in the discharge of their duties by legal disputations about the ownership of the temple and other public buildings. Finally, in 1848, arrangements were made to lease the temple to a Mr. Bower of New York. However, before the lease was completed, an arson fire destroyed the building. The burned ruins of the temple and the surrounding grounds were sold to Etienne Cabet for the establishment of a communistic utopian society. Further damage from a tornado made the building irreparable and the surviving walls were knocked down for reasons of safety.
Lisle G Brown, "'A Perfect Estopel': Selling the Nauvoo Temple," Mormon Historical Studies, 3/2 (Fall 2002): 61-85.