Morris Engelberg Cheated Joe DiMaggio Out of $20,000 in Memorabilia
According to Richard Ben Cramer’s new book, an attorney serving as Joe DiMaggio’s friend and business manager cheated the Yankee icon out of thousands in memorabilia during his final days.
In the story, Morris Engelberg is depicted as an intimidating loner who harbors animus against Frank Sinatra, President Clinton and even Marilyn Monroe (his former flame).
Early Life and Education
Morris Engelberg was born and educated in New York City. He earned both his undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College and JD from Brooklyn Law School. Over 39 years, Engelberg represented DiMaggio as trustee for all DiMaggio holdings; co-founding Engelberg & Milgrim law firm with Milgrim in 1976.
He serves as executor for DiMaggio’s estate and has actively worked to protect DiMaggio’s image, such as when Yale University Press used a photograph of Monroe and DiMaggio together in Jerome Charyn’s book YUP: Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio by Yale. Engelberg objected to naming a children’s hospital after DiMaggio’s wife Marilyn Monroe; now living at 3230 Stirling Road Suite 1 Hollywood Florida 33021 after previously living at 1499 Shoreline Way Hollywood FL 33019 Sherdian Street Hollywood FL 33021 before 1526 Breakwater Ter Hollywood FL 33020
DiMaggio held down center field for the Yankees from 1936 to 1951 (he served three years during World War II before returning). Over these 13 seasons he amassed a.325 career batting average with 361 homers and 1,537 RBIs; three out of those years led the American League in batting while winning an MVP award each time!
DiMaggio always avoided celebrity status and instead served as an excellent host for fans who visited his hotel room to chat. At baseball memorabilia shows, he charged six-figure fees to sign his name with care in flowing penmanship that never scrawled or scrabbled the words together.
DiMaggio was at his bedside when he passed, with Dominic, Engelberg and Joe Nacchio by his side; all were present when Joe Nacchio came by to say his last goodbyes after being his companion for so many years.
Joe DiMaggio’s life in baseball has long been celebrated, while his private affairs have often been the source of gossip and speculation. DiMaggio’s confidant and lawyer Morris Engelberg attempted to clear the air through this memoir of DiMaggio.
He details his dispute with an old partner over money from DiMaggio’s estate, including how Engelberg failed to utilize a legal loophole that would have saved his clients from paying generation-skipping taxes. Furthermore, Engelberg talks about his relationship with Marilyn Monroe – including her claim of wanting many children – his strained relations with Joe Jr. and Dom, and with Yankee teammates alike.
He details his ardent protection of DiMaggio’s image, such as when he sues San Francisco for having the nerve to name a park after him.
In 1983, DiMaggio had an estimated net worth of about $200,000. Living in an affordable Florida apartment at that time, his life took an unexpected turn after meeting Morris Engelberg – a wealthy Palm Beach money manager and lawyer who orchestrated endorsement deals, increased Joe’s autograph signing fee to $50 000 per signing session, and secured him a memorabilia deal worth $9 Million over two years with Score Brand.
Engelberg also encouraged Joe to invest his savings in luxury Florida mansion and rare baseballs and lithographs which would later fetch millions at auction. Without charging management fees, Joe trusted Engelberg fully.
Scott Jablow, a partner at Lavine Lofgren Morris & Engelberg LLP in San Diego, specializes in tax matters pertaining to closely held businesses and pass-through entities. Additionally, he frequently presents on tax topics.