Throughout the making of the Amsel documentary, there have been a number of people I’m indebted to for their assistance. The project would likely not have been possible without them.
One such person was my attorney, Harriet Beck, who was instrumental in helping me solve the seemingly complicated mystery of Richard Amsel’s estate and intellectual rights. After I spent years on my own trying to sort through and validate conflicting accounts made by Amsel’s friends and family, researching wills and probate records in New York, Pennsylvania, and California, the time finally came when I knew I would have to retain legal help.
Enter Harriet. To describe her as an attorney specializing in intellectual property rights would not do her justice. Throughout our conversations, Harriet struck me as a force of nature – direct, no-nonsense, ballsy, charming, caring, and someone you would definitely want fighting on your side.
When I explained to Harriet the full history and challenges of my documentary, my dealings with a number of curious personalities involved, and the full legacy of Richard Amsel’s life story and what happened with his work, Harriet allayed all my fears. She took up the project as a call to arms, and encouraged me to keep fighting to preserve an artist’s legacy.
Harriet could be forceful when needed, but also comforting and encouraging. “Listen,” she’d begin, whenever she needed to get an important point across. I’d instantly keep my mouth shut and ears open every time she uttered that word, for I knew it meant business.
There was one instance where Harriet called someone on my behalf, asking for validation about a particular past claim that had been made about the Amsel estate. When a certain someone's name was mentioned, that person promptly hung up. Harriet then called me, saying, “Adam, I guarantee you, you have nothing to worry about.”
I regret that, thanks to the COVID era, I never had the opportunity to meet Harriet in person. She wholeheartedly accepted my invite to a celebratory wedding brunch…and joked how it would be the first time we’d meet face to face, following over a year of phone and email correspondence. But my wedding plans were postponed repeatedly due to health concerns, and we never did get to have that brunch.
Thank you, Harriet. I’ll miss you, and miss having you on my side.
My heartfelt condolences to Harriet’s family and many, many friends.