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    The wealthy and reclusive Howard Hughes offers to "face up" to "some expenditure to contain the efforts" of his competitors

    Howard Hughes Autograph Letter. Two yellow pages from a legal pad, 8.5" x 13", n.p., n.d. [ca. 1968], to Hughes' close assistant and confidant Robert "Bob" Maheu. At the time Hughes wrote this letter, he was busy buying several hotel casinos in Las Vegas, often relying on Maheu as his dealmaker. In this letter, Hughes, one of the wealthiest men in the world, directs his trusted aide with a sense of urgency to stamp out any new competition "on the strip." He refers to his competitor Kirk Kerkorian, an early developer of Las Vegas and builder of the International Hotel in 1967, the largest hotel in the world at the time. Hughes had tried to prevent the hotel's construction, but had failed.

    "I think it is imperative that a new license on the strip not be granted to anyone until such times as the industry here can recover to some degree from the impact of the decline now being experienced. Please tell me what can be done to accomplish this objective and please assume the responsibility of accomplishing. If this requires some expenditure to contain the efforts of Royal Inns or Bonanza - Kerkorian, or any other I don't know about I will face up to it. . . . I would like to avoid buying the Bonanza real estate, but I don't want to see that facility reopened - urgent!

    The "Bonanza", mentioned in the first letter, was a hotel and casino which had opened in 1967 on the Las Vegas Strip. Hughes, through Maheu, attempted to buy it in 1968, though it was a financial risk. This letter has staple holes in 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: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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