A fight over the archives of the late author Arthur Miller pitted two deep-pocketed educational institutions against each other.
Arthur Miller passed away in 2003. However, literary scholars still have not had the opportunity to review his archived journals, notes and letters.
During his life, Miller had a close relationship with the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. On a couple of different occasions, Miller sent the center several boxes of his archive to the Ransom Center for safe-keeping.
He appears to have made it clear in his correspondence, that he wanted the Ransom Center to be the permanent home for the archives.
Despite that preference, Yale inspected the archives and offered Miller's estate $2.7 million for them.
After a heated dispute, the Ransom Center matched the offer, as The New York Times reported in "Inside the Battle for Arthur Miller's Archive."
The problem appears to have stemmed from the fact that Miller never formally left his archive to the Ransom Center.
No estate planning document was created making his preference legally binding. Therefore, his estate fulfilled its duty to maximize the amount of money it could get for the works.
It is not clear that they have that much value commercially, even if they do contain some letters and discussions about Miller's second wife, Marilyn Monroe.
The educational institutions were willing to pay for the prestige of housing the archives of the celebrated playwright.
Reference: New York Times (Jan. 9, 2018) "Inside the Battle for Arthur Miller's Archive."