A woman almost fainted when she learned the value of a highly controversial letter she brought to “Antiques Roadshow.”
Vie Carlson brought a letter from Frank Sinatra that he signed to Vie Carlson, which he sent to Mike Royko, a Chicago Daily News columnist in 1976.
The “My Way” singer was irked off by the journalist’s unflattering op-ed, which questioned the amount of police protection the singer used when he was in Chicago for a performance.
In the piece, Royko claimed that the streets were more dangerous because Sinatra had used some of the city’s police as his personal security.
One part of the angry letter read, “Quite frankly, I don’t understand why people don’t spit in your eye three or four times a day.”
Royko also mocked Sinatra’s hair in the column, so the singer challenged the journo to a wager at the end of the letter.
“I will allow you to pull my ‘hairpiece,’” he wrote. “If it moves, I will give you another $100,000; if it does not, I punch you in the mouth. How about it?”
Sinatra and journalists had a contentious relationship. Sinatra was arrested early in his career after he attacked a journalist for writing unflattering pieces about him.
“I saw red. I hit him,” he told the Baltimore Sun in 1947. “I’m sorry that it happened, but I was raised in a tough neighborhood where you had to fight at the drop of a hat.”
Carlson was shocked to hear that Simeon Lipman, an appraiser for the letter, predicted that it would fetch at least $15,000 at an online auction.
“Oh gee, I’m gonna faint. I’m gonna faint,” she said after hearing how much the letter was worth, as a producer and Lipman gave her a chair to sit on.
“Oh man, are they kidding me?” she continued, shouting excitedly to the people nearby, “Did you all hear that, did you all hear that?”
Carlson then pointed to someone off-camera and said with a laugh, “He offered me a hundred dollars for it! You can’t have it for a hundred dollars!”
She also whispered to the producer, “If I ever sell it, the money goes to Salvation Army. The more the merrier!”
Carlson shared the story of how she obtained the letter before that. She said she always read the Chicago Daily News and that her favorite columnist was Royko because he was “always for the underdog.”
Sinatra sent Royko the letter and he published it in the paper. Royko said he would make it available to the highest bidder and that the money would go towards the Salvation Army.
Carlson decided to bid on the letter using the $400 Mother’s Day check she got from her family. Royko called Carlson to inform her she had won the bid a few weeks later.
Antiques Roadshow uploaded Carlson’s segment on their YouTube channel, and many home viewers commented on how fun the scene was to watch. Here are some of their reactions.
“She has the most wholesome reaction on this entire show. She is so lovely and cute!”
“Wow! Wow! She must be one of the most sweetest ladies on the planet. This letter is an absolute treasure. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went for $30k in today’s market.”
“I feel that this young lady is an absolute blast to hang out with. Best reaction I have ever seen on this show.”
The cute moment was from a 2009 episode of “Antiques Roadshow,” filmed in Madison, Wisconsin. Carlson’s appearance was featured in a recent collection of music-related appraisals from the show’s history.
According to a note at end of segment, the letter would be worth $20,000 today.
Carlson, who owned the antique shop Vie’s Antiques in Loves Park, Illinois, passed away at 87 three years later in 2012.
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