To Joseph G. Butts, Jr., of the law firm of Gall and Lane [Letter 440]

Item Reference Code: 129_04H_024_001

Date(s) of creation

January 5, 1951


Joseph G. Butts, Jr.


[Page 1]
January 5, 1951

Mr. Jos. G. Butts, Jr.
Gall and Lane
Commonwealth Building
Washington 6, D. C.

Dear Mr. Butts:

Thank you for your letter of December 29. If Mr. Gall believes that we should sue Scalera in the Italian courts in regard to the exhibition of WE, THE LIVING in Spain, the arrangement will be agreeable to me in principle, as outlined in your letter, but I would like to know a few details about it.

Would this suit be a separate matter which must be handled apart from our war claim? If so, will the outcome affect our basic claim in any way?

I assume that under the peace treaty the State Department is to handle only that part of the case which pertains to Scalera’s actions during the war. Is the exhibition of the picture in Spain considered as a new and separate infringement? If so, should we not include in this suit all the exhibitions of the picture since the end of the war? If you remember, the picture was re-issued in Italy a few years ago during the last Italian election, and I suspect that it has also been released in other European countries. I wonder whether it would be possible for the Italian attorney to obtain information on all the exhibitions of the picture since the war and include them all in our suit against Scalera.

Have you any way of judging, at least approximately, how much we would be able to collect from Scalera for the exhibition of the picture in Spain? I suppose that we could get a rough idea by finding out what is the average gross of an Italian picture in Spain, and what percentage do the Italian courts allow an author in such cases, if there have been any precedents to go by.

The suggested fee for the Italian attorney will be agreeable to me, but if we go ahead would you draw up a proper agreement between the Italian attorney and myself,

[Page 2]
Mr. Jos. G. Butts, Jr.     Page 2     January 5, 1951

in which the financial terms would be clearly stated? I would like such an agreement to be subject to American laws—or put in such terms that I would have some protection against these attorneys, in case they should prove unreliable or in case some difficulties arise in the future. I should like to be protected particularly on the matter of collecting the money from Scalera, in the event that we win the case. Is there any way of arranging for that money to be forwarded to me without taking some dreadful loss on the exchange restrictions? If the money is collected by the Italian attorney and is held for me in a bank in Italy, but we are unable to transfer it to this country, then the money will merely disappear in the course of the Italian inflation. Before we proceed with this action I would like to know what legal arrangement is possible at present in order to transfer any sum we win to this country. If the money is to be won but is to remain in Italy, I wonder whether it is worth proceeding with the action.

In case we do proceed would you be in a position to supervise the actions of the Italian attorney, at least to the extent of watching whether he is acting intelligently in our best interests? And what would be our arrangement for your fee in respect to this particular action?

Would you let me know please what is the status of our claim with the State Department, and is there any prospect of any action on it in the immediate future?

With best regards,



Ayn Rand



Ten years later, AR was awarded 14,000,000 lire (then $22,778) in an out-of-court settlement of her suit.