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Howard Hughes fedora


Billionaire investor, movie maker, pilot and recluse Howard Hughes remains one of the most compelling figures of the 20th century. Here are 5 incredible pieces of memorabilia associated with him. 

  1. Signed photo

This rare signed photograph is inscribed by Hughes to his flight manager. It reads: "To Al Lodwick, Best of luck."

Lodwick worked with Hughes during the late 1930s, including on his flight around the world in 1938.

The photograph sold for $6,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2011.

  1. Airmail

Image: Cooper Owen

This rare cover is signed by Hughes and four members of his round the world crew. It's addressed to Earl Daley, head of the Hughes Aircraft Company, and is one of only a handful of letters carried on the flight.

All of these were given to close friends or associates of Hughes and only a handful were ever signed. The present lot sold for £3,500 ($5,405) at International Autograph Auctions earlier this year.

  1. Fedora

Image: Cooper Owen

Hughes can be seen in numerous photographs wearing a fedora of this style. The present lot was sold for £18,000 ($27,778) at Cooper Owen in 2005.

It was consigned by Bob Kuldell, an old friend of Hughes and an executive of one of his many concerns.

  1. Casino chip

Image: Heritage Auctions

The Sands Hotel was one of a series of glamorous Las Vegas casinos bought by Hughes during the late 1960s (it was later demolished in 1996). This $5 chip sold for $22,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2010.

Hughes began buying up establishments in the city after arriving at the Desert Inn in 1966. He would not leave the hotel for another nine years.  

He famously bought the Silver Slipper, an establishment visible from his penthouse suite, to tear down its iconic neon sign as it was keeping him up at night.  

  1. Letters

Image: Cooper Owen

Hughes was notoriously reclusive, which is partly why this collection of 10 love letters in his own hand is so rare.

All are addressed to Billie Dove, a young actress whom Hughes met in 1929. They fell in love but were both married so Hughes paid off each of their spouses to allow them to marry.

But for unknown reasons, possibly Hughes' notorious philandering, they never wed.

The collection sold for £30,000 ($46,264) at Cooper Owen in 2005. 

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