The Fox Business News show “Strange Inheritance” recently visited the offices of Verras Law, P.A. to meet with probate attorney Spiro J. Verras and his client Juan Carlos Saucedo-Campos, who inherited the estate of legendary autograph collector Jack Kuster, including over 35,000 celebrity autographs and 17,000 never-before-seen celebrity photographs.
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. He became an avid collector when he moved to New York City shortly afterward. For the next 70 years, Kuster assembled the world’s largest single-handedly-acquired collection of original autographs. He personally obtained autographs from thousands of celebrities in North America, Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. In addition to the vast autograph collection, Kuster took over 17,000 never-published photographs of the greatest stars of the 20th and early 21st Centuries. Among the actors Kuster collected was Saucedo-Campos, a Mexican stage and television actor, in 1993. They remained in touch and, after Saucedo-Campos emigrated to the United States in 1996 to pursue a Broadway career, their friendship deepened, ultimately leading Kuster to prepare a will in 2000 that left his entire estate to Saucedo-Campos.
After Kuster’s 2012 death in NYC, Saucedo-Campos was represented by Tampa probate attorney Spiro J. Verras, who engaged his former law partner Peter N. Freiberg to assist with the probate administration of the Kuster estate in New York. Verras explained to Strange Inheritance host Jamie Colby that his initial plan was to help his client identify potential buyers for the collection. “I reached out to most of the major auction houses, most of whom were already familiar with Jack Kuster and eager for the opportunity market the collection.” However, once Saucedo-Campos considered the possibility of selling his friend’s life’s work he changed his mind. Instead he decided to preserve and curate the collection for posterity.
Verras explained 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.”
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