- Last Updated: 3:14 AM, May 9, 2012
- Posted: 12:32 AM, May 9, 2012
You can’t take that away from her!
A children’s book author says a controversial memorabilia dealer has been trying to sell a stack of letters that legendary lyricist Ira Gershwin sent to her late father, Gershwin’s biographer.
In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Carla Jablonski said she’d thought the letters from the “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Embraceable You” writer were safe and sound inside her Upper West Side apartment until she was told a man named Gary Zimet was trying to sell them to the Library of Congress last month.
Zimet — an autograph dealer whose other offerings have included a Schindler’s list and the record John Lennon autographed for his assassin — was asking $325,000 for the 135 letters from Gershwin.
“He is completely without any right to offer these letters [for] sale, and, although I do not know how he obtained them, his possession of them is illegal,” says her suit, which seeks the letters’ return.
Her filing says the letters span 1941 to 1980. Her father, Edward Jablonski, became friends with Gershwin after writing him a fan letter while serving in the Army in World War II and Gershwin wrote back. Her father wound up writing several books on Gershwin, including the 1958 biography, “The Gershwin Years: George and Ira,” which is still in print.
After Edward died in 2004, Carla and her brother gave most of his Gershwin archive to the Library of Congress, but she held on to the letters in question “because of their private and personal nature,” the filing says.
She found out they were no longer in her possession April 19, when she got a call from the Library of Congress saying Zimet had offered to sell the letters.
“I was shocked,” Carla’s affidavit said. The librarian sent her a copy of one of the letters Zimet had sent her to elicit the library’s interest, and “it was a letter from Ira Gershwin congratulating my parents on their wedding.”
In e-mails to the librarian, Zimet said he’d gotten the letters from another dealer who’d obtained them from Edward Jablonski.
Zimet, who called the suit “bulls--t,” knows courtrooms. He was sued by Paul McCartney in 1998 for trying to sell the handwritten lyrics to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which the Beatle claimed had been stolen from his home 30 years earlier.
The Library of Congress declined to comment.