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    Howard Hughes wants "another channel here like I want a dozen more hotels"

    Howard Hughes Autograph Letter Signed "Howard." Four yellow pages from a legal pad, 8.5" x 13", n.p., dated with a different pen "6/1 - 6:45 P.M." to Robert "Bob" Maheu, one of Hughes' most trusted aides. At the time, the eccentric and reclusive Hughes was in the process of acquiring a hotel and casino empire in Las Vegas, something begun in 1967 with the purchase of the Desert Inn. But wanting to glamorize Las Vegas even more, he, with Maheu's footwork, added several local television stations to his holdings. In this letter, Hughes, one of the wealthiest men in the world, exhibits his excitement about the possibility of buying channel 10 in Las Vegas. With a sense of urgency and the desire to stifle his competition, he writes in full:

    "I just read your message re Ch[annel] 10.

    Bob, I am delighted with the prospect of this project. Please take it over and make an all-out effort to accomplish the desired result in the very minimum time.

    Bob, this is a ten-strike. If you don't move immediately on this, there is always even a possible risk that somebody might obtain this transmitter in one way or another with some kind of a license for ch.10.

    This is always a possibility. So, I am pressing you with all possible urgency to make some kind of a deal whereby ch. 10 may be purchased or leased and used on the frequency of ch. 8.

    In other words, Bob, I see two objectives: 1. to acquire the transmitter - the actual machinery. 2. to extinguish permanently the competitive potentiality of ch. 10. This latter objective is by far the most valuable of the two objectives.

    Bob, I have been meaning to talk to you about the possibilities of somebody obtaining a license for another channel in this area. I am terribly frightened about this possibility. The area is growing so fast I can foresee a demand from a number of factions claiming the need for another channel because of the huge growth.

    As you may guess, I want another channel here like I want a dozen more hotels.

    So please give this your utmost effort, Bob, I had no idea that the operators of ch. 10 were contemplating going out of the broadcasting business. This is a beautiful, beautiful idea just so long as somebody else doesn't get their hooks into ch 10. . . . It is sort of difficult to put into words, Bob, but I hope you understand what I am trying to say."

    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: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 480

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