In my mind, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, better known as Dr. Nick, is one of the main bad guys in Elvis’ history. Yes, I know the state of Tennessee cleared Dr. Nick in 1981 of charges that he prescribed Elvis too many addictive drugs, but he lost his state medical license in 1995 for other bad conduct, so that tells you something. Normally, I wouldn’t write anything in Elvisblog about Dr. Nick, but this story is just too weird to skip.
During his long association with Elvis, Dr. Nick received gifts from his favorite patient. In 2000, realizing the value of these items, Dr. Nick entered into a 50-50 partnership with a Nevada entertainer named Bobby Freeman. Freeman’s real name is Robert G Gallagher, and he is a self-described “little old country boy” with a third grade education. In his act he sings original rockabilly songs wearing a cowboy hat with a bullet hole in it. He plays numerous instruments; his specialty is playing the piano with his feet and other body parts.
Gallagher’s deal with Dr. Nick was to exhibit the Elvis collection in casinos. Gallagher has stated, “We opened it at the Hollywood Casino in Tunica, [MS], 15 miles from Graceland, and it was held over three times, and I did entertainment shows opposite of it in the ballroom.” This success gave Gallagher the idea to put the collection inside tractor-trailers and tour it nationwide.
It took years to build displays inside two custom-made 18-wheelers, but by 2005 they was ready. Gallagher proudly described the truck interiors: “Everything is beautiful. There’s carpeting everywhere – burgundy, two inches high, the best you can buy. Every frame is carved gold. You got your crown molding …”
Before the exhibit trailers were finished, Gallagher met Richard Long, a California businessman at a car show in Reno. Later, Long saw his performance and hired Gallagher to do the show at his birthday party. They kept in touch, and Long visited Gallagher in Reno and saw the mobile Elvis exhibits. In April 2006, Long and Gallagher entered into an agreement to form a joint company to exhibit the memorabilia.
Long gave Gallagher $200,000 for himself plus $1 million to buy the Elvis collection from Dr. Nick. Supposedly, Long agreed to put up to $1 million more into the company so Gallagher could pay the bills he ran up creating the tractor-trailer displays. In addidtion, Long was to put an additional 1 million into the company to be used on an as-needed basis. Sounds good so far, right? Well, now it gets weird.
Long gave Gallagher the first $1.2 million, and presumably Dr. Nick was paid off. However, Gallagher never turned over the Elvis collection to the newly formed exhibition company. Somehow, he got the idea that the real value of the memorabilia was $250 million, and that Long was planning to sell it to Asian collectors and keep all the money. So, Gallagher refused to turn over the displays unless Long came up with another $3.5 million.
In November 2006, Long filed suit. He was willing to dissolve the company, sell the Elvis collection, and split the proceeds. But, when the court convened on March 25, 2007, Gallagher was a no-show. He proclaimed, “I didn’t show up because I knew they were going to pound the hell out of me.” Indeed, Long’s attorney did just that, introducing the facts that Gallagher had a prior felony conviction for auto theft, had a prior judgment against him for $200,000, and had run up $500,000 in debt to Bank America.
The judge ordered Gallagher to turn over the Elvis memorabilia for inspection for insurance purposes. Gallaher refused to do this, saying that photographing the items would devalue the collection. Long’s attorney said, “The legal term for their argument is ‘a load of hooey.’” Gallagher again failed to show up in court this past May 12, and the judge ruled that Gallagher must turn over the exhibit to the exhibition company and pay part of Long’s legal fees.
So what is in Dr. Nick’s Memories of Elvis? Here’s the list:
The black doctor’s bag used by Dr. Nick while treating Elvis.
A stuffed dog Elvis had in his suite at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Laryngeal scope Dr. Nick used to examine Elvis’ throat and
Wooden carved desk, made by Elvis’ uncle, Vester Presley, and supposedly used by Elvis in Graceland.
Puka shell and turquoise necklace Elvis gave to Dr. Nick.
38 Smith & Wesson snub nose once owned by Elvis.
The book, “The Prophet,” with hand written notations by Elvis
in the margins.
A bowl, taken to the Memphian Theater filled with fresh cut
fruit, for Elvis to eat during movies.
An empty prescription vial dated August 15, 1977.
A 14k yellow gold and diamond TCB pendant and necklace that Elvis gave Dr. Nick.
A glass nasal douche Dr. Nick used to irrigate Elvis’
Gallagher has called this collection “the greatest find since the Titanic.” With the exception of the book and TCB pendant, I think I like the lawyer’s term: “A load of hooey.”
© 2007 All Rights Reserved Philip R Arnold www.elvisblog.net