"skulking around in rags like Howard Hughes"

 Howard Hughes (1905-1976) was an eccentric American entrepreneur who made his fortune in various different industries including aviation, film, and engineering. He had obsessive-compulsive disorder, which led to his famously reclusive and eccentric behaviour later in life; at one point he closeted himself inside a film studio for four months, only eating chocolate bars and milk. He had a fear of germs, and would use tissues to shield himself when he touched things or picked them up. Martin Scorsese's film The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is based on Hughes' life.