With autographed baseball bats and caps, pictures and plaques covering the walls and book shelves, attorney Morris Engelberg’s office has become a shrine to legendary New York Yankee outfielder Joe DiMaggio.
Engelberg, who is trustee of the late star’s estate and administers licensing rights on behalf of DiMaggio’s heirs, has named his portion of the office building after his friend and client of nearly 15 years.
Now in his 70s, Engelberg is ready to let go of the nearly 6,200-square-foot space he owns in a building on Sheridan Street in Hollywood. He has the property on the market for $1.19 million.
“This is the only Joe DiMaggio building in the world,” he said during a recent tour of his office.
Engelberg stopped in front of almost every framed picture to tell a DiMaggio anecdote.
DiMaggio, known to generations of sports fans as the Yankee Clipper, is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak (a record that still stands) and his brief 1954 marriage to actress Marilyn Monroe.
The Hollywood legend died in 1962. Engelberg said DiMaggio mourned Monroe “every day of his life.”
New York-born Engleberg said he had waited all his life to meet DiMaggio.
“I asked everybody, ‘How do I meet DiMaggio?’ ” he recalled.
Eventually, one of his clients put him in touch with DiMaggio in the early 1980s, when DiMaggio was living in Miami Beach. DiMaggio was 68. Engleberg was 43.
“You know, when I met Joe DiMaggio he had $150,000 in CDs,” he said, noting that DiMaggio earned less than $500,000 in his 13-year baseball career. “I brought him $82 million in revenue [from licensing deals] over 15 years and when he died, he had $42 million net.”
He said he never sent DiMaggio a bill.
“I waived $20 million — but don’t feel sorry for me,” he added. “Those were the best years of my life.”
Engleberg may be ready to sell the office, but he is not ready to leave.
“I take pride in this building,” he said.
DiMaggio died in Hollywood in 1999 at age 84. Engleberg laments that his hero never got to visit his office, which he bought years after DiMaggio’s death.
He hopes the buyer will let him stay as a tenant “for as long as I am alive.”
His law office takes up about 2,500 square feet. The rest of the office condo is empty.
He said he is willing to pay $55,000 in rent a year, almost the cost of carrying the building. He plans to keep the DiMaggio name on the office condo for as long as he stays. If he has to leave, the name will go with him, he said. Colliers International broker David Metalonis, who is marketing the property, said the ideal buyer would be a professional-services user, such as an accounting or law firm, or a health-care company.