Ken Levit, executive director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, is a big Bob Dylan fan. But he never in his wildest dreams ever thought he’d get his hands on the legendary singer’s archives.
Then he got an email in the fall of 2014. It was Glenn Horowitz.
Horowitz, a rare-book dealer in New York who had worked with Levit and GKFF to help bring the Woody Guthrie collection to Tulsa, had just read in the New York Times that the family of singer Phil Ochs had donated some of his materials to the Woody Guthrie Museum.
“He reached out to me to share with me that there was this opportunity with Bob Dylan,” Levit said.
Soon thereafter, Levit and Dylan’s associates began “a series of conversations and meetings and travel to get to know each other,” Levit said. “And by the way, not (between) Dylan and me, just the people who work with him.”
Dylan’s people visited Tulsa to see the Woody Guthrie Museum and learn more about the educational and philanthropic work done by GKFF, Levit said.
“We were able to explain a little bit about what our vision was and what kind of values we have,” Levit said.
“I think that Dylan’s folks were impressed by a number of things, but particularly the partnership with the University of Tulsa.”
“I think they liked the idea that this material would be made available to the academic community.”
Levit and TU staff traveled to New York to see part of archive collection.
“It is fantastic,” Levit said of the Dylan archives. “There are photos, there are materials, there are posters, there are news items.”
GKFF and the University of Tulsa announced Wednesday that they had purchased Dylan’s archives for an estimated $15 million to $20 million.
Levit, 50, knows how fortunate the city is to land the iconic singer’s archives.
“I am confident that institutions around the world would have loved to have been in this position,” Levit said.
He will no doubt take special pleasure in having the Dylan’s archives in his hometown.
“I can remember the time I put the cassette of ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ into my 1974 Monte Carlo for the first time like it was yesterday.”