July 29, 2009

Kerouac will declared fake by Florida judge


Jack Kerouac and his mother, Gabrielle

Jack Kerouac and his mother, Gabrielle

The estate of Jack Kerouac — which includes journals and unpublished manuscripts and thousands of letters, all valued at $20 million — has been thrown into turmoil after a Florida judge ruled that the 1973 will controlling its disposition was a forgery.

According to an Associated Press wire story, Kerouac left everything to his mother, who upon her death in 1973 left it all to Kerouac’s third wife … or did she? “Kerouac’s daughter challenged the will in 1994, after seeing a copy and deciding the signature was fake. She died two years later, but Paul Blake Jr., the writer’s nephew, continued the litigation.” And yesterday a judge agreed with him.

“The ruling is sure to please some Kerouac devotees who have objected to the handling of the writer’s estate,” says the AP report, “including the sale of his raincoat to actor Johnny Depp for $50,000 and the original manuscript scroll of Kerouac’s 1957 classic On the Road, which was sold to the owner of the Indianapolis Colts for $2.43 million.”

One thing that remains unsolved, however, is who committed the forgery, and why?

Elaine McGinnis, an attorney “appointed to represent the estate’s interest,” says, “Everybody is dead now that was ever involved in it, so no one will really ever know.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives