Auctions | September 15, 2015

170 Letters from CIA Double Agent Aldrich Ames Go Up for Auction at Lion Heart Autographs


New York, New York—Lion Heart Autographs, for nearly forty years an internationally recognized dealer of autographs and manuscripts focusing on art, history, literature, music and science, has announced the auction of more than 170 letters from the notorious spy Aldrich Ames and over 115 autographs and documents from important  moments in history. Joining the previously announced auction of rare Titanic artifacts from Lifeboat No.1, this collection of autographs and historical documents offer an exceptional glimpse into historical events largely hidden from public view.  

The live auction will begin at 12:00 Noon EST on September 30, 2015 through the and online bidding platforms with other bidding opportunities on, France’s and China’s This is a no-buyer’s-premium auction.

CIA double agent Aldrich Ames, considered by most espionage experts a traitor of historic significance, spied for and collaborated with the Soviet Union and Russia for nine years until his arrest in 1994. The highest paid turncoat in American history, Ames compromised the greatest number of CIA intelligence assets ever.  As a high-ranking expert in the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Soviet/East European Division, Ames had access to highly classified information and became one of the Soviet Union’s most successful double agents; his activities led to the execution of at least 10 Russians secretly serving the interests of the United States and the compromising of 100 clandestine operations.  

With content that could have been lifted from a Hollywood movie script, the archive of more than 170 handwritten letters signed by Ames from Pennsylvania’s high security Allenwood Penitentiary where he continues to serve a life sentence, offers an insightful look into the mind of an American turncoat prepared to sell out his country for cash.  The letters are written to his sister Nancy Ames Everly and signed “Rick” often with a smiley face.                                       

The more than 300 pages scrawled on yellow, legal-sized paper over the course of 11 years, present a full and revealing account into Ames’ daily prison experiences including life in solitary confinement, known as the hole.  He rails against the CIA and other government agencies, attempts to maintain contact with his family including his estranged wife and son, plans for legal appeals with his attorney, reports on a serious prison guard threat, arranges for newspaper and television interviews, reveals a lengthy and very cultivated accounting of the books and magazines he reads in prison, and offers an astonishing and humorous account of the IRS’ attempt to claim back taxes on the millions of dollars paid to him by the Soviet Union. These tales form just a small part of this massive and remarkable collection. 

Some highlights include:

Regarding his wife who had just been sentenced to serve 63 months in prison (October 19, 1994): “What you tell me of Rosario comes as no surprise,  and I have no right or inclination to make it otherwise. It is a necessary way to preserve and fortify herself against what has happened and what is to come. What I do so very much hope for is that the resolve and strength she will need to survive will also be of a mind which will overcome her trials. That she be able to leave them behind her somehow in a way which will enable her - and Paul (Ames’ son) - to pick up life again and heal.  Only then will I truly hope for whatever reconciliation is possible...”  

A possible movie project directed by Oliver Stone (October 21, 1994): “Apart from my deep contempt for Stone’s ideas and methods, I would not be interested, I think, in ever assisting him. Stone’s bizarre concepts of reality and his need to present his own point of view would probably be harmful…”

On the FBI and CIA (November 12, 1995): “My refusal to talk to the FBI and CIA is a response to the government’s failure to perform as called for in my plea agreement involving a whole range of issues affecting my own situation here…the FBI may have hoped that a good guy/bad guy routine would be useful to it but surely recognizes as I do that there is very little real basis for such ploys.” 

Life in solitary confinement (February 17, 1997): “Well I’m back in the hole again. I was suddenly arrested in the compound on Monday afternoon February 10, hand-cuffed, strip searched and put into a solitary cell block in Allenwood’s Special Housing Unit where I’d spent the 20 months between August 94 and April 96.  They had told me that some of the staff here feared for my safety in general population due to the story coming out in US News & World Report which they thought might rouse some of the more excitable prisoners here to kill me for my crimes or to extort from me the $2 million I’m said to have access to...”

(February 2, 2000): “P.S. Have received two amazingly warm and complimentary letters (asking for money) from Senator Lott. How nicely illustrative of our political process”

Other letters include his response to the IRS who had demanded that he pay $1,070,920.48 in back taxes for money he received while working for the Soviets, an autograph copy of a letter to the editor of Science regarding “The Intelligence Blame Game” (2002), and a letter about his transfer to another prison (2005).                                                                      

As a Russian intelligence analyst, Ames had worked in various field offices before being stationed at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In 1985, in the wake of an expensive divorce,  his desire for money prompted him to offer to sell secrets to the KGB. He compromised 100 CIA operations and supplied information that led to the execution of at least 10 CIA operatives. Much of this impacted the foreign policy of the United States and it took several years for Ames’ extravagant spending to raise the CIA’s awareness.  In 1993 he was placed under FBI surveillance and was arrested shortly before a planned trip to Moscow whereupon he confessed his crimes.  During the course of his treachery Ames was paid millions of dollars. Tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, the 31-year CIA veteran agreed to forfeit all of his assets. The hundreds of pages of letters present an extraordinary and riveting documentation of Ames’ first eleven years in prison. A number of the letters include clipped magazine cartoons relating to his thoughts and feelings about imprisonment and nearly all of the hand addressed envelopes are included. (Estimate: $10,000-$12,000).

In addition to the Ames prison letters, Lion Heart Autographs will offer a collection of historical autographs written by some of the world’s most celebrated personalities including world leaders, authors, artists and scientists. Chronicling important events in the lives of Ernest Hemingway, George Washington, Albert Einstein, “Woody” Guthrie and others, the no-buyer’s-premium auction will offer eager collectors an opportunity to purchase more than 115 items during the Rare Titanic Artifacts from Lifeboat No. 1 & Other Historic Autographs Auction.

Some highlights include: A letter by famous automaker Frederick Duesenberg (Estimate: $3,000-$3,500);  a typed letter by Albert Einstein about the difficulty of studying mathematics (Estimate: $4,000-$6,000);  an edict from Columbus’ patrons  Ferdinand and Isabella outlawing playing cards and dice throughout their Iberian kingdom (Estimate: $10,000-$12,000); one of the last letters by F. Scott Fitzgerald about his financial destitution  written just one month before he died (Estimate: $8,000-$10,000); a letter including  the lyrics of a folksong by “Woody” Guthrie (Estimate: $4,000-$6,000); and an outstanding letter about marlin fishing and The Old Man and The Sea signed by Ernest Hemingway (Estimate: $5,000-$6,000).                                                                                                                     

The more than 100 autographs for sale at our no-buyer’s-premium auction represent a cross-section of history that most people could never imagine owning and holding in their hands. What could be more thrilling than bidding on a historical artifact that is so personal or intriguing that your heart skips a beat.” notes Lion Heart Autographs’ founder and owner David Lowenherz. 


Other featured auction items include a Winston Churchill letter about  his favorite racehorse (Estimate: $2,500-$3,500); a rare signed photograph by Stephen Crane (Estimate: $12,500-$15,000); a Salvador Dali book with a hand drawn illustration of Don Quixote (Estimate: $3,000-$3,500);  a letter from Gerald Ford about a Constitutional amendment permitting prayer in public schools (Estimate: $1,500-$2,500); a letter from Cuban Revolutionary and CIA assassination target Che Guevara written on National Bank of Cuba stationery (Estimate: $1,800-$2,500); an amazing Civil Rights letter by Fannie Lou Hamer (Estimate: $800-$1200); a letter from the Marquis de Lafayette about the French Revolution of 1830 (Estimate: $1,800-$2,000); a 1st edition of Where the Wild Things Are signed with a drawing by Maurice Sendak (Estimate: $5,000-$7,000); a letter from John Steinbeck mentioning the death of his beloved dog Charley (Estimate: $1,400-$1,600); a letter by Virginia Woolf about her article on E.M. Forester (Estimate: $1,800-$2,000); and a letter from Diego Rivera mentioning spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (Estimate: $1,400-$1,600).

Other sale highlights include a signed photograph of Pope Paul VI (Estimate: $1,500-$1,800); an autograph quotation from Uncle Tom’s Cabin signed by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Estimate: $6,000-$8,000); and George Washington’s signature on a free frank (Estimate: $4,500-$5,500). More than 115 lots will be offered during the auction.                                  

For bidding registration and catalog click here: The auction will take place online, partnering with Boston-based, one of the world’s leading online auction platforms and, both of which offer live online bidding that permits collectors and dealers from around the world to bid in real-time auctions.   

Lion Heart Autographs is located at 216 East 45th Street, Suite 1100, New York, New York 10017. Telephone: 212-779-7050; Fax: 212-779-7066; Email:; website:    



Invaluable, the world’s leading online live auction marketplace, features a live online bidding platform that allows collectors and dealers to bid in real-time in auctions held around the world. As the leading developer of SaaS and e-commerce applications for the auction industry, Invaluable provides auction houses with e-commerce and marketing solutions, as well as auction management software. Invaluable’s best-in-class historical price database includes more than 58 million complete auction results, totaling more than $204 billion in value. Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Boston, Invaluable also has an office in the United Kingdom. For more information, visit  


Lion Heart Autographs is an internationally recognized dealer of autographs and manuscripts specializing in art, history, literature, music and science.  Founded in 1978, Lion Heart Autographs has earned an unmatched global reputation for acquiring and placing the most rare and interesting autographs and manuscripts, while carefully authenticating and describing each piece’s historical significance. Clients range from Harvard, Yale and the U.S. Library of Congress to private collectors, investors and corporations around the globe. Lion Heart Autographs is located at 216 East 45th Street in New York City and is operated by David Lowenherz, its founder and president. For more information, please visit

First image: Example of an Ames letter.

Second image: A rare signed photograph of Stephen Crane.