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    Howard Hughes "most humbly" apologizes for overworking Robert Maheu

    Howard Hughes Autograph Letter Signed "Howard." Three and one-quarter yellow pages from a legal pad, 8.5" x 13", n.p., n.d. [1968] to Hughes' close assistant and confidant Robert "Bob" Maheu. On the versos, Maheu has written a four-page response. With Maheu's footwork, Hughes, one of the wealthiest men in the world, was in the process of building a hotel and casino empire in Las Vegas.

    In this letter, Hughes is honest and apologetic as he responds to a previous letter written by Maheu (not included in this lot), one Hughes found alarming - "It puzzles me," he admitted.

    "The only time I mentioned anything that might be interpreted this way was very recently when I said that I got the feeling, from you, that you no longer had the enthusiasm for this position that I had sensed at the start of our relationship. Then I reminded you of the remark you made, which caught me by complete surprise, the remark that you had a deep instinctive feeling that we were headed on a collision course and that perhaps we should be best advised to end it now in a friendly way. I never will forget this remark and the calmness with which you said it, because I was litterally [sic] dumfounded with surprise. Anyway, I reminded you of this and I said I wondered if you were having a return of these feelings. You said: 'not in the least!' and then went on to tell me you had been working very hard but found it a challenge.

    So, Bob, I am sure you will agree that on no occasion have I suggested that we part on friendly or unfriendly terms. Consequently, I don't think it is fair of you to say this. . . . I live in constant fear that some chance remark I may make will be misinterpreted by you, and that you will get angry as you did once before that I remember. . . . So, you see I would not dream of suggesting that you leave, because I would be afraid you would call my bluff and take me up on it. . . . Now regarding the underlined portion at the bottom of the page, if John did not tell you that I wanted to be sure there was no more publicity - not even the announcement of a cancellation, then pray what did he tell you? Maybe this is the source of our misunderstanding. . . . Anyway, to retrace, I want all the facts of course. However, after I have them all, if it is a matter which affects my entire operation, not just Nevada, then if I give due consideration to all pros and cons and make a decision, I hope you will go along with me and support me.

    I any event, nothing here excuses my making you go all day with no time for a shave or food; and for this I apologize most humbly, [signed] Howard."

    Maheu passionately responds on the versos of Hughes' four-page letter: "Howard, Please, let's knock off this horrible exchange of negative notes because we have too many important things to accomplish in a short period of time. I have no desire to leave. . . . It is unfair to you for me to spend valuable time justifying my existence and it is unfair to me - because of my innate desire for accomplishment - to use such time unless it is spent in something affirmative. Seven years ago, I promised you that I would phase out from all other clients. This, I have done. For God's sake, Howard, when will you realize that you are my only 'boss'! So - please - stop thinking in terms of worry - because I would leave only if it were an accommodation to you. . . . I am sorry we do not have an opportunity to spend more time discussing these things in person." Maheu signs the letter, "In sincere friendship, Bob."

    Because of his eccentric and reclusive nature, Howard Hughes 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 the persuasive and diplomatic Robert Maheu, a one-time FBI counter-espionage agent. In 1961, Hughes convinced Maheu to work solely for him as his full-time surrogate and main dealmaker with a salary of $520,000 and an unlimited expense account. 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. As is apparent in this letter, their relationship was becoming strained and would eventually, two years later, completely rupture when Hughes fired Maheu following a complicated power struggle between Maheu and other Hughes' aides. This letter has staple holes in the upper left corner and minor chipping along top edge.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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