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July 5, 2022

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Former Howard Hughes confidant dies at 90

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008 | 3:56 p.m.

Howard Hughes' Alter Ego

Bob Maheu describes how he transformed from Howard Hughes' right hand business man, into the billionaire's alter ego.

UPDATE: His was the influence that backed Hughes’ cash

Robert Maheu, the longtime confidant of Howard Hughes, has died at age 90.

Maheu, a former FBI agent, served as Hughes' right-hand man and alter ego for 13 years. Maheu moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles in 1966 when Hughes relocated to the top floor of the Desert Inn, which Hughes purchased when hotel management asked him to leave that year in time for New Year's Eve crowds.

“We weren’t gambling and we were tying up their best rooms — they were justified in trying to kick us out,” Maheu recalled in a 2004 interview with the Las Vegas Sun.

Those wanting to attend the noon Saturday funeral at St. Viator's Catholic Church, 2461 E. Flamingo Road, are asked to use the Eastern Avenue entrance due to road construction blocking access on Flamingo Road, a church spokeswoman said.. The funeral is open to the public.

Maheu was born on Oct. 30, 1917, in Waterville, Maine. After graduating from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During World War II he posed as a German sympathizer.

In 1947, Maheu established his own investigative company. He also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. He later admitted: "The CIA was my first steady client, giving me 'cut-out' assignments (those jobs in which the agency could not officially be involved)." This work brought him into contact with Howard Hughes, and in the late 1950s Maheu worked for him on a freelance basis. This included intimidating would-be blackmailers and obtaining information on business rivals.

Maheu began full-time work for Howard Hughes in 1966. He moved to Las Vegas, where he ran Hughes's casinos. Maheu explained later what his role was in the operation: "When he came here, he wanted to tie up all the property on the Strip to develop it properly. He didn't want it to be honky-tonk or like Coney Island. Hughes was a catalyst in the city cleaning up its act."

After losing his job with Howard Hughes in 1970, Maheu established a new company in Las Vegas called Robert A. Maheu and Associates. In 1993 Maheu published the book, "Next to Hughes," an autobiography written with Richard Hack.

In 13 years serving with Hughes, where he held the billionaire's power of attorney and spoke on Hughes' behalf for all public purposes, Maheu saw Hughes two times.

Maheu had battled cancer and heart problems. He would have turned 92 in October.

Maheu is survived by thee sons, Peter, Bill and Robert, 10 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

Find additional coverage of Robert Maheu in Wednesday’s edition of the Las Vegas Sun.

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