Descendants Tussle Over Steinbeck Manuscripts and Artifacts

From The Californian: Caught off guard by news that John Steinbeck memorabilia will be auctioned off in New York on Wednesday, the author's son and daughter-in-law are raising money on the fly to bid for items and bring them to Salinas.

Santa Barbara-based Thom Steinbeck and Gail Steinbeck had raised $4,600 as of Monday from a list of contributors that included auto dealership owner Sam Linder and CIA Director Leon Panetta. Their goal is $15,000.

Bloomsbury Auctions announced last Wednesday that a collection of Steinbeck manuscripts, photographs and artifacts valued from $200,000 to $250,000 will be put to bid. The items trace back to a New York apartment the author shared with his third wife, Elaine Steinbeck, in the 1950s and 1960s. After she died in 2003, they came into the possession of Elaine's children from a prior marriage to Zachary Scott, Gail Steinbeck said.

Those heirs, with the aid of literary agents McIntosh & Otis, arranged for the auction, Steinbeck said.

It's a bone of contention between two sides of the family. Disputes over possession of particular items have been hashed out in court for eight years.

"Thom has always believed that John Steinbeck was his father and his father belongs to him," Gail Steinbeck said. "But John Steinbeck the author belongs to the world and Thom understands that. He believes those things belong somewhere that scholars, students and people who love his works have access to them."

Syndicate content