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    Howard Hughes Autograph Letter Signed "Howard." Two and one-third yellow pages from a legal pad, 8.5" x 13", n.p., dated with a different pen "5/16 - 2:15 P.M." to Robert "Bob" Maheu, Hughes' close assistant and confidant. At the time Hughes wrote this letter, he was buying several hotel casinos in Las Vegas, often relying on Maheu to make the deals.

    In this letter, Hughes asks Maheu questions about his most recent Las Vegas venture, the Stardust Drive-In Theater, the first of its kind on the Las Vegas Strip. Hughes also mentions James "Herb" Nall, another of his agents who carried out his directives as he made Las Vegas land purchases. Hughes and Nall began working together in 1951. The letter reads in part:

    "Please tell me the details of the closing of the purchase of the Stardust Drive-In theater and the so-called 'pie shaped piece of land'.

    The only reason I ask for this is because, in the maps that Herb Nall sends me frequently to illustrate some piece of property, he has never shown this property as being owned. The maps I refer to always show the property already bought in one color, and the property under consideration in another color. However, the Stardust property mentioned above is never shown at all among the property already acquired.

    So, therefore, it is apparent that Nall is unaware of that transaction. I only want to see a map illustrating the two pieces of property in order that there be no misunderstanding particularly about the pie-shaped piece of land, which is best known to me. . . . Bob, I want most urgently to see you get started on the project we have discussed for the sale of the hotels.

    Before I tell you please to go ahead and see the top man in Denny's, I want you to consider this decision once more very carefully. So much is involved, I am hesitant to say go ahead until I understand fully what changing circumstances led you to shift your views away from the Dominick & Dominick public offering plan which you favored so strongly and to favor instead the Denny approach, which I had principly
    [sic] been prefering [sic], and which I understood you did not particularly care for.

    Please explain the changing factors which led to your different evaluation. You explained it at the time, but I never did completely understand it. This is very important. There is a lot of money involved. . . . Also, Bob, please give me your very latest thinking as to what can be done about the circus and, one more thing, Bob
    . . . ."

    This letter illustrates the working relationship between Hughes and Maheu, one of Hughes' closest aides during the 1960s. 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.

    Hughes' attempt to buy the Stardust Resort & Casino in 1966 for $30.5 million was blocked by antitrust laws. A small hole exists in the top left corner of each page of this letter where the staple has been removed.

    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. Their relationship became 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: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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