Mike Renzulli

Objectivist Lectures

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Greybird, you sure know a lot about Kira Peikoff and her father's estate.

Not really. She's his only child. And "keeper of the flame" situations rarely persist into a second generation. They want the money. Which, in true capitalist fashion, ends up making some creative destruction — here, of the stranglehold of the Rand estate on these materials — and is fine by me.

Amy Peikoff (Leonard's second and current wife) may do what Priscilla Presley did, guiding the process for her (step)daughter, but time and inheritance will eventually have their way. This isn't a matter of an L. Ron Hubbard turning things over to a church, after all. The ARIans have long been stupid, but they're not that stupid.

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I'd like to see the document Rand signed, appointing Peikoff as 'literary executor.' I doubt very much she gave him every word she ever wrote as a personal bequest that inures to the benefit of his heirs and assigns. It's about time this got cleared up. Peikoff owns nothing.

W.

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I'd like to see the document Rand signed, appointing Peikoff as 'literary executor.' I doubt very much she gave him every word she ever wrote as a personal bequest that inures to the benefit of his heirs and assigns. It's about time this got cleared up. Peikoff owns nothing.

She gave him her entire estate, including her copyrights, valued initially at about a half-million dollars. The will is public record in New York state. Peikoff is co-executor with two lawyers.

Those copyrights are personal property, and are his — and his heirs', presumably his wife and daughter — to be used, or not, as desired. Nearly all of them, since they're for works created before 1978, expire 95 years after creation, thus from 2031 (We the Living) to 2071 ("The Ayn Rand Letter"). Until then, the Peikoffs control them as they please.

(The exception is Anthem, whose U.S. copyright was transferred to Leonard Read's publishing organization in 1946, but was not renewed in 1974, with the book thus entering the public domain.)

None of this means that Peikoff can abrogate past contracts. For example, Rand signed agreements with Signet/NAL (and its successors) that Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal would include essays by Nathaniel Branden, Robert Hessen, and Alan Greenspan. Those essays can't be removed without renegotiating the contract, which he hasn't done, so they haven't been. (Unless he finds a new or additional publisher, as he did with Oliver Computing for that CD-ROM.)

Apart from what he's dealt away, such as the film-production rights to Atlas, or what had already been limited by contract, or where Rand never held copyright (such as her '30s work-for-hire film scenarios or '60s Playboy interview) — he and his heirs control the use of every word she ever wrote, for now.

Edited by Greybird

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A brief AP item about it, quoted by the New York Times, is here.

A friend once showed me a copy he'd obtained from the Surrogate's (probate) Court in New York County (Manhattan), out of curiosity. It was pretty straightforward.

I didn't keep a copy, but I ran across an accurate summary in Stephen Silverman's book of celebrities' final arrangements, Where There's a Will, in 1991.

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I suspect the high prices "turn off" a lot of potential supporters as well.

They do. I have purchased and read all of her books. I have purchased multiple copies of a lot of them. But I'm not paying $100+ for a lecture. That is crazy.

If they priced the stuff reasonably and in modern formats, this is one objectivist that would be buying, who is not currently.

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The high lecture prices discourage me also. I must add that I am sometimes disappointed in the material which keeps me from buying other lectures by these individuals.

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I'd like to see the document Rand signed, appointing Peikoff as 'literary executor.' I doubt very much she gave him every word she ever wrote as a personal bequest that inures to the benefit of his heirs and assigns. It's about time this got cleared up. Peikoff owns nothing.

She gave him her entire estate, including her copyrights, valued initially at about a half-million dollars. The will is public record in New York state. Peikoff is co-executor with two lawyers.

Those copyrights are personal property, and are his — and his heirs', presumably his wife and daughter — to be used, or not, as desired. Nearly all of them, since they're for works created before 1978, expire 95 years after creation, thus from 2031 (We the Living) to 2071 ("The Ayn Rand Letter"). Until then, the Peikoffs control them as they please.

Aghast. I'd still like to see the document. Utterly aghast.

:sick:

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As #30 mentions, wills are public record. Let us know what you find out.

My recollection of Where There's a Will is that she left $800K. That's surprisingly little if you consider what she must have been making from Atlas Shrugged on. A pretty good investor could have turned that into several million. Apparently she owned only one home (in California), which she sold in the early 60s.

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Peikoff is co-executor with two lawyers.

I happened to come across the names of the persons who I assume are (or were) the two lawyers. The names are included in the copyright notice for the NAL The Early Ayn Rand:

"Copyright © 1983, 1984 by Leonard Peikoff, Paul Gitlin, Eugene Winick, Executors of Estate of Ayn Rand"

Ellen

___

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It seems surprising that Ayn Rand did not do a better job of investing.

Harry Binswanger claims in a tape about Ayn Rand's life that Frank made investments with her money. Barbara Branden made the comment that Miss Rand kept most of her money in the bank and watching inflation eat it up.

Edited by Chris Grieb

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Chris,

There is no direct contradiction there (not that you were implying that there was one). Putting money in the bank is a form of investing. Buying some blue chips would have been a good idea, but this was before the era of mutual funds.

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Neil; It seems hard to believe that since Alan Greenspan was a close associate he did not at least suggest investments.

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The first mutual fund was created in 1924. The 1929 crash and Great Depression delayed mutual funds becoming popular. They became popular in the 1960's (source). However, the 1970's was not a good decade for the stock market (inflation, oil crisis).

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In addition to Greenspan, one of the inner circle, Harry Kalberman, married to one of Nathaniel Branden's sisters, was a broker. She was friendly with Gerald Loeb, an investment banker and popular investment writer (they both commissioned houses from FLlWright but didn't build). One hardly needs an economist or broker to know that home ownership is a prudent course of action. We forget that she was, before anything else, an artiste. These people have traditionally not much cared about money.

In one of her letters from the 1940s, Rand wrote to a bank asking them if they could advise her on a land purchase. It's an odd letter in that she expressly and almost apologetically assures them that she only wants to stey even with inflation and not turn a profit.

Edited by Reidy

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That could mean that she wanted a conservative investment which would at worst keep up with inflation rather than a speculative one which is more risky but has the upside of possible large profits.

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Yes. That's pretty much a tautology. Just the same I'm intrigued by the fact that, conerning money, she was so unlike the people she admired and wrote about.

(The post WW2 years were a time of enormous economic and population expansion as well as inflation. A real estate investor had to pick carefully to break even rather than turn a profit.)

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She was comfortable with what she did. She was free to do what she wanted to--write. The Ayn Rand Letter was obviously designed to provide her with an additional source of significant income. The Objectivist stopped publication one month before it would have had to publicly disclose its circulation figures, which I suspect would have been a source of embarrassment as they had been in decline year by year. As I recall a subscription cost $33/year and a not unreasonable assumption of 10,000 subscribers would equal a gross income of anyone-can-do-the-math. The Objectivist was a lot cheaper and more interesting even post-break. It must have greatly simplified her life as she no longer had to deal with contributors. I thought at the time that bi-weekly as opposed to monthly publication was going to be too much unnecessary work for her, which became apparent after a couple of years as she fell further and further behind. (I kept all the envelopes and on each I put the date the issue was received.) She thought she could just dash them off. Not so.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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[On "The Ayn Rand Letter": ... Rand] thought she could just dash them off. Not so.

Indeed she could not, given the attention she found she could not avoid paying to these commentaries sparked by current events. Tracing their philosophic implications was neither as obvious nor as easy as it first appeared, even for her.

In her final issue, she admitted openly that she could not "automatize" that process of analysis, as she had hoped. It was almost the only time in her career, at the very end of her published work, that Rand admitted to a failure of method — at least in public. (I haven't read the book of her journal extracts.)

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*Platonic Expectations by Objectivists: One should be on top of every sphere, have unlimited time, be expert in a range of multiple areas*

>Coates: could mean that she wanted a conservative investment which would at worst keep up with inflation rather than a speculative one which is more risky but has the upside of possible large profits.

>Reidy: concerning money, she was so unlike the people she admired and wrote about.

If you make -speculative- investments (certain stocks, high risk 'flyers'), you have to invest more time than with safer things - monitor the investment or think thru what one's 'advisor' tells you, etc. watch the market. The upside is high, but so is the downside with more adventurous investments. If one's goal is to be a writer and thinker and that requires enormous time and effort and focus, it is perfectly rational to 'trade' becoming expert in financial matters and investments for some profit.

You are investing your time in the most profitable way - being highly productive in a field where the time demands are enormous.

So, Reidy, no disparaging comparison to her 'heroes' is appropriate, suggesting she somehow wasn't living up to them...or they would have done better or differently:

Francisco, if I recall, said it's easy to tell which businesses will succeed. No, it isn't. That's just a character from a story. He was portrayed as excelling effortlessly in everything. But he was a fictional character: Choosing a stock, choosing a company (or piece of property) to invest in, and watching for news and factors that can affect it can take SIGNIFICANT TIME AND EFFORT (since many economic factors can come into play). Reidy, if you say it doesn't, have you made a killing in investments? And have you done it without it taking a significant amount of time away from your other productive pursuits?

And you can't slough it off on 'expert' brokers or investment advisors. They can have a good past track record and mess up. To invest, you really either have to spend a lot of time ... or you have to choose certain more conservative avenues and accept that you will protect the principal or get a low rate of return.

Rand was trading money for time to write, to think, to read, to meet with her colleagues, and students. ***Rand's policy, given her time priorities, was 100% rational and appropriate.***

>A real estate investor had to pick carefully to break even rather than turn a profit.

Well, no, not always. In every field of investment, there are safer investments which require less attention and less have less risk of failure. It's like buying CD's...or (better) bonds, the triple A rated one's are less likely to go bust. And what happens is since they are 'conservative' investments they pay out less in dividends or interest or appreciation.

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The problem with contemporary investing is it's almost all necessary speculation because inflation causes your money sitting in the bank to evaporate. Both The Objectivist and The Ayn Rand Letter provided Ayn Rand with a source of income and I'm sure she needed it if only for peace of mind. Fortunately for her they were primarily writing endeavors.

--Brant

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...I didn't mean the title of my last post to suggest Reidy is a thoroughgoing Platonist. I like to find titles for my posts, so I can classify them in my writing files, my catalogues of thinking error...even if they don't apply 100% to the person I'm disagreeing with on a particular point....

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Brant, there are lots of conservative investments even in mildly inflationary times. They are in fact designed as tools to keep up with inflation. Gold is one example. Certain other commodities. Certain CD's with the right maturities. Read "Conservative Investors Sleep Well" by Fisher.

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> concerning money, she was so unlike the people she admired and wrote about.

Actually, Reidy, I may have misread the context of your comment. ..My bad :( ...

If you were not merely talking about the idea of conservative investment, but the fact that she only left $800,000 in her will, despite being a multiple best-selling author as well as a public speaker [if it -is- a fact? does anyone have this documented rather than the usual gossip mill?], then somehow she let a lot of royalty and lecture money slip through her fingers *before* it even became time to invest it in stocks, bonds, gold, real estate, cd's, mutual funds, etc.

(But this is like pissing one's life away online endlessly speculating about details of Rand's fifty-years past relationships with people long dead. Or preemptive guesswork about how well the Atlas Shrugged movie will turn out. We need to have the *facts* and the context, else it's probably all mental masturbation.

I, for one, am sorry I wasted too much time posting on this topic, about which neither I -- nor probably any of you -- have enough of the actual details.)

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