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    Howard Hughes trys to stifle his Las Vegas competition

    Howard Hughes Autograph Letters (Two) Signed "Howard." Both are written on lined yellow pages from a legal pad, 8.5" x 13", n.p., n.d. [1968] to Hughes' close assistant and confidant Robert "Bob" Maheu while Hughes was in the process of buying several hotel casinos in Las Vegas. In these two letters, Hughes, one of the wealthiest men in the world, displays his aggressive business acumen as he directs one of his most trusted aides.

    The first letter, which consists of two pages, begins, "I want you to do something for me and it is very important. I want you to make an all out effort to do something about the threat of excessive competition. Now, Bob, I don't care if this takes the form of some action in connection with Parvin or the Bonanza or both. . . . Concerning Parvin, I think you should contact the governor [Paul Laxalt] tomorrow, even tho it is Sunday, and tell him the publicity stink on Parvin is just plain destroying the fine image you and I have been able to bring to Nevada and in which everybody has a huge investment. Bob, I think you must make an effort, a real effort to scuttle completely the Parvin Dorhman empire and force divestiture. If you could accomplish this, I see no reason why the new company I want created to take over the hotels should not acquire on, at least, of the P.D. hotels. If this could be accomplished, I would not feel so adamantly about the Bonanza. However, I want you to go all out to abort the Bonanza, until some success on the P.D. deal is assured."

    Mindful of antitrust accusations, Hughes offers Maheu two reasons why they need not fear government regulators: "1. one of the P.D. hotels is not on the Strip. 2. the public ownership of the hotels is bound to bring a more tolerant attitude about monopoly." He closes the letter, "Anyway, Bob, I truly implore you not to brush me off on this over all issue. I know you are not in sympathy, but it is tremendously important to me. Thank you very much, [signed] Howard." The "Bonanza" 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. At the time "Parvin" - the Parvin-Dohrmann Company, sellers of hotel equipment and owners of several Las Vegas casinos and hotels - was accused of manipulating its stock price. Staple holes exist in the top left corner of each page of this letter.

    In the second letter (one-half pages in length) Hughes refers to Parvin-Dohrmann's regulatory problems. "In line with my previous message relative Parvin Dohrman and their violation of gaming Commission regulations, what were we able to do, and what do you think might possibly be done?"

    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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