19101924 | 19251926 | 19271930 | 19311943 | MORE RECENT
THE NEW YORK TIMES November 12, 1926 Page , Column
HOUDINIS LIBRARY VALUED AT $500,000
Will Divides It Among Widow, the Nation and Society for Psychical Research
BEQUESTS TO HIS RELATIVES
No Explanation of Magicians Many Tricks Found Yet, but Papers Still Await Close Examination
Harry Houdinis private safety deposit box in the Lincoln Trust Company, at 60 East Forty-second Street, was opened yesterday under a court order. A will was found which contained no intimation of the size of his estate, but which left most of it to his widow, his brothers and a sister. During the afternoon the will was filed by representatives of the safety deposit company at the Surrogates Court.
It was said by Bernard M.L. Ernst of 25 West Forty-third Street, Houdinis attorney, that most of the magicians fortune had probably been invested in his library, estimated to be worth $500,000. The books are to be divided among the Congressional Library at Washington, the American Society for Psychical Research and Mrs. Houdini.
Surrogate OBrien signed an order for the opening of the safety deposit box early in the week. Officials of the State Tax Department opened it. The will was discovered among a mass of other papers which were not examined because the Surrogates order expressly provided that the will only was to be taken and that it was to be filed at once.
No Explanation of Tricks
Nothing developed when the box was opened, it was said last night, to determine definitely whether the papers it contained included the explanation of the tricks which for many years have mystified even other magicians and which remain wholly unexplained. The remaining documents will be examined in detail later.
The will, which was executed July 30, 1924, closed with the words formerly Erich Weisswhich was Houdinis original nameafter his signature. It provides for the payment of his debts and funeral expenses and directs that the Machpelah Cemetery Association, Fresh Pond Road, Queens, receive $1,000 for the perpetual care of the lots where he is buried beside his mother. No other member of the family is to be interred there, the will stipulates. A bronze bust of himself, made by Cassidy of Manchester, England, is the be placed at his grave on an exedra erected by the magician.
Houdinis widow, Mrs. Wilhelmina Rahner Houdini, receives all household effects, jewelry, ornaments, trophies, silverware, personal effects, oil paintings and his entire dramatic library.
His new mysteries and illusions and the accompanying paraphernalia are given to his brother, Theodore Franz Weiss, known professionally as Hardeen. It is provided that they are to be destroyed upon his brothers death. Theodore is requested to give $50 a year for twenty years to another brother, William Godfried Weiss, on each June 16, the anniversary of their mothers birth. Should William die before the end of twenty years, it is asked that the gift be made annually to his son, Samuel Weiss.
The American Society for Psychical Research, at 44 West Twenty-third Street, is to receive Houdinis collection of books, pamphlets, letters and the like relating to spiritualism, occultism and psychical research. His widow is to be the sole judge of what constitutes this collection.
Wants Name Attached to Gift
His entire library and collection of programs, excepting his dramatic library and the collection referred to above, is given to the Congressional Library at Washington, provided the gift is accepted and is permitted to be known as the Donated Library of the late Harry Houdini, or by some other like suitable designation.
If the Congressional Library refuses to accept the gift and the attached condition it is to go to the New York Public Library with the same stipulation. If the New York Public Library declines to take it, it will then revert to his widow to dispose of.
Three of Houdinis assistants, Franz Kukol, James H. Vickery and James O. Collins, get $500 each and the Society of American Magicians receives $1,000.
The residue of the estate, real and personal, is left in trust to the Bankers Trust Company, which is to convert it into cash and invest the money in first mortgages on approved real estate in Manhattan. The income of the trust fund thus created is to be paid every six months, in equal shares, to his widow, a sister and four brothers.
Houdini names his widow as executrix. His brother Nathan is to be her successor at her death. Should both die, the Bankers Trust Company is appointed executor.
TO ACCEPT HOUDINI GIFT
Librarian of Congress Says Condition Will Not Bar Bequest
Special to The New York Times.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress, declared tonight there was no question that the Congressional Library would be willing to accept Harry Houdinis literary collection under the terms stipulated in his will, requiring that a title be carried indicating it was donated by the magician.
Mr. Putnam has received no direct information concerning the bequest.
I shouldnt have any question of it, said Mr. Putnam tonight when asked if the terms would be accepted. He added that he knew the collection only be hearsay but understood it was remarkable.
When a man who has the interest and very great sincerity Houdini had, and sufficient means also, and devotes himself to research for such material in which at the time there is not much competition, it stands to reason that he must gather material of great interest, Mr. Putnam added.
This article is reproduced here only for educational purposes. Please do not copy the text or accompanying images for commercial use.
HOME ABOUT ARTICLES LINKS
Back to Top