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    Howard Hughes offers to "peel off" any hotels which "constitute the minimum necessary to satisfy the Justice Dept"

    Howard Hughes Autograph Letter Signed "Howard." Three yellow pages from a legal pad, 8.5" x 13", n.p., dated with a different pen "10-22-69 4pm" to Robert "Bob" Maheu, Hughes' close assistant and confidant. With Maheu's help, Hughes, one of the wealthiest men in the world, was in the process of buying hotel casinos in Las Vegas. This letter provides a fascinating glimpse into Hughes' Las Vegas business machinations as shares of the casino industry's stocks rose to new levels in the summer of 1969, induced partly by Hughes' own investments in the field which began with his purchase of the Desert Inn in 1967. Hughes, who was being watched by the Justice Department for antitrust activities, writes:

    "Regarding which hotels I would be willing, as you say, to peel off, I think the best way to answer that is to say: 'whichever ones would constitute the minimum necessary to satisfy the Justice Dept.

    Bob, the upturn in the market has created a whole new problem. If this market continues its upturn, you may be sure the Parvin problems will evaporate and the company will find a way to heal its own wounds.

    I assure you of one thing: If the market continues upward, the price of the Parvin stock will soon rise to a point in spite of their SEC problems, where it will not be attractive for purchase.

    I told you a while back that it was a time for buying, not selling. . . . Therefore, I urge that the Parvin project, in both Washington and Carson City, be prosecuted with the very maximum, all out effort, intensity, and speed.

    In other words, Bob, the recent troubles of Parvin have assisted in the progress of the program you and I have discussed in two ways: 1. By increasing the willingness of the Justice Dept. toward permission for the acquisition of these added hotels. 2. By driving the price of the Parvin stock downward.

    Now, what I am saying is that, if you do not move like lightning in Washington, the passage of time . . . may very likely result in the stock regaining its strength and rising to a value that would no longer be attractive.

    Please let me know how quickly something can be done to advance the negotiations with the Justice Dept. and determine what sort of division of the hotels, in terms of those to be kept and those to be peeled, will be acceptable to the Justice Dept. . . ."

    At the time "Parvin" - the Parvin-Dohrmann Company, sellers of hotel equipment and owners of several Las Vegas casinos and hotels - was accused by regulators of manipulating their stock price just as similar stocks were reaching new highs. Consequently, Parvin-Dohrmann's stock fell from a 1969 high of $141 per share to $28 per share in April 1970. Each page of this letter has staple holes in the top left corner.


    More Information:

    Howard Hughes' (1905-1976) bizarre behavior began as early as the 1930s when he was a Hollywood film producer and director. By the time this letter was written in 1968, Hughes, one of the wealthiest men alive, had completely disappeared from public view -- the "Invisible Billionaire," as Time magazine branded him. Because of his eccentric and reclusive nature, he surrounded himself with trustworthy aides who were able to carry out his directions concerning his numerous business ventures. One of his closest aides during the late 1960s was Robert Maheu, a former World War II FBI counter-espionage agent. After the war, Maheu, who had developed a talent for persuasion and diplomacy, started his own consultancy and worked as an operative for several clients around the world, including Howard Hughes. In 1961, Hughes convinced Maheu to work exclusively for him as one of his main aides and dealmakers with a salary of $520,000 and an unlimited expense account. Maheu once explained about their relationship, "He decided that he wanted me to become his alter ego so he would never have to make a public appearance." Over time, Hughes relied on Maheu more and more, often assigning the former FBI agent unusual projects. By the time this letter was written, Maheu was a trusted friend, but, because of Hughes' reclusive nature, the two had never met face-to-face; instead, they communicated by using these lined yellow legal-pad pages and the telephone. Their relationship, however, was becoming strained and completely ruptured in 1971 when Hughes fired Maheu following a complicated power struggle between Maheu and other Hughes' aides.



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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