Juan Carlos Saucedo-Campos of Tampa has inherited the estate of legendary autograph collector Jack Kuster, including over 33,000 celebrity autographs and 17,000 never-before-seen celebrity photographs.
In March 1993, Saucedo-Campos, a Mexican stage and television actor, was working the box office in an ensemble theater production in Mexico City when he was asked for his autograph by a retiree visiting from New York.
Saucedo-Campos was accustomed to young Mexican autograph-seekers, but this was his first American.
“He introduced himself as Jack Kuster and told me he was visiting from New York City, and he very politely asked for my autograph and to take my picture,” said Saucedo-Campos. “I was fascinated by this eccentric American who spoke perfect Spanish.”
In 1996, Saucedo-Campos moved to New York to pursue his dream of a Broadway career.
“After I moved to New York, Jack became my best friend, my family in the US,” said Saucedo-Campos. “I discovered that Jack’s autograph collection was more than a hobby; it was a lifelong obsession. Other than me, his only friends were other collectors, among whom he was legendary for his dedication to getting every celebrity on earth. They would come to him for information and guidance.”
Kuster, a native of Rochester, NY, began collecting at age 14, when he approached film star Carmen Miranda for her autograph while she was visiting Rochester for a World War II war bond rally. For the next 70 years, until his death in 2012, Kuster assembled the world’s largest single-handedly-acquired collection of original autographs.
He personally obtained autographs from nearly every celebrity in North America, Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. Kuster traveled to 19 different countries to get the autographs of stars who were not available in the USA.
“If there was one Greek movie star missing from his collection, he would plan a trip to Athens to get that one autograph. And he somehow did it all on a very modest income,” Saucedo-Campos recalls.
In addition to the vast autograph collection, Kuster took over 17,000 never-published photographs of celebrities.
“He took candid pictures of stars everywhere, from their homes and hotel rooms to their tables at restaurants to the streets, wherever he found them: Vivien Leigh reading ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ in the passenger seat of a convertible, Katharine Hepburn getting out of a taxi, James Dean on a street corner, Elizabeth Taylor in line for the theater, Ricardo Montalban at a gas station, Rock Hudson smoking in his car, Marilyn Monroe leaving her dressing room, Jane Fonda reading ‘The Interrupted Journey’ in Greenwich Village. Every time I look I discover a new treasure,” said Saucedo-Campos.
Saucedo-Campos is represented by Tampa probate attorney Spiro Verras, who notes that his client feels a great responsibility as the steward of Jack Kuster’s legacy
“Since inheriting the Kuster Collection, Juan Carlos has dedicated himself to cataloging and digitizing it,” Verras explains. “Jack had the collection indexed on paper, organized and cross-indexed in various categories, only some of which we’ve been able to decipher. Juan Carlos is converting the index to an electronic form so that we can instantly find the location of each autograph and photograph. He is also digitizing the tens of thousands of slides so that they can be preserved for future generations. It is a formidable task that is far from complete.”
About Spiro J. Verras: Spiro J. Verras, Attorney at Law, is a full-service law firm with offices in Tampa and Palm Harbor offering:
- Estate Planning
- Probate & Trust
- Elder Law
- Corporate & Commercial
- Media & Internet
SOURCE: Spiro Verras
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