Friday, November 6, 2020

Breedlove vs. Houdini trial photo fetches $400

An original glass slide from the 1926 Breedlove vs. Houdini trial in Chicago sold on eBay last week for $400.75. Several other slides from noted press photographer Henryk Schafer sold back in July, but this image may be my favorite. It shows medium Herbert O.  Breedlove pleading his case before the judge with Houdini glaring at him with arms folded. So good.

Click to enlarge.
This is an original, one-of-a-kind glass plate photographic negative which depicts an intense courtroom scene, whereby Houdini denounces Herbert O. Breedlove, a Chicago medium and mindreader, as being a fake. Judge Francis Borelli is hearing argument from Breedlove, with Houdini standing just to the left. Breedlove was suing Houdini for criminal libel, claiming that Houdini's criticisms made it impossible for Breedlove to conduct his mindreading business. Witnessed accounts say the atmosphere was so intense that one man fainted and Breedlove himself collapsed in his chair. When Houdini asked Breedlove to tell him the nickname which his father had given him, Breedlove could not come up with the answer, and the charges were dropped. Houdini had long waged a vigorous campaign to expose unscrupulous mediums and spiritualists.

According to Milbourne Christopher (Houdini The Untold Story), Houdini escaped the libel charge.

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