Tag Archives: lawsuit

Did Ryan O’Neal Steal Painting From Farrah Fawcett’s Estate?

Seventies beauty icon Farrah Fawcett died in June of 2009 at the age of 62, following a terrible battle with cancer.  She did the proper estate planning, complete with a will and a trust.   [You can read the trust here].  So why are there not one, but two lawsuits over one of her assets?

It all comes down to a famous Andy Warhol painting of Fawcett.  Warhol painted two silkscreen paintings of Fawcett and reportedly gave them both to her as presents.  [You can see one of the two paintings here].

Fawcett’s trust provides that her art collection passed to the University of Texas, her alma mater.  The University received one of the two Warhol paintings, but not the other.  So where is it?

In the possession of Fawcett’s  former on-again, off-again boyfriend, Ryan O’Neal … and he doesn’t even dispute that he has it.  So the University of Texas sued O’Neal, claiming the painting belonged to Fawcett when she died and should now belong to it.

O’Neal denies Read more...

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$150 Million Trust Fund Stolen From Poor Children In Panama, Lawsuit Claims

Family fights over wills, trusts and estates are far too common, not only in our country, but elsewhere.  Sometimes, those fights reach a whole new level.  This has certainly been the case with a tragic story from Panama which harmed those most in need … millions of impoverished and starving children.

A Florida attorney, Richard Lehman, takes center stage in the dispute.   He recently sued political officials throughout Panama — including three Supreme Court judges — charging corruption, bribery, theft, and much more.  The fight involves the estate of Lehman’s former friend and client, Wilson Lucom.

When he died in June of 2006 at the age of 88, Lucom was an expatriate American living in Panama.  One year before he died, Lucom signed a will generously leaving the majority of his $50 million fortune to a trust fund to benefit the poor and needy children of Panama.  That fortune includes ocean-front real estate which has appreciated in value, so that Lucom’s estate is now valued at more than $150 million. Read more...

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Rosa Parks Trust and Estate Tied Up In Lengthy Court Fight

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks passed away at the age of 92 on October 25, 2005, in Detroit, Michigan.  Almost six years later, her legacy is still tied up in a lengthy court battle.  The case features allegations of abuse, cronyism and corruption by the probate judge as well as the two lawyers he appointed to oversee the estate and trust

It also involves who will receive all of the considerable civil rights memorabilia owned by Rosa Parks when she was alive, and even the rights to use her name and likeness.

Rosa Parks’ will and trust left the majority of her assets to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, operated by Rosa Parks’ longtime friend, Elaine Steele.  Parks and Steele had formed this Institute.  Steele says she was close to Parks for 45 years and that Parks looked at her as the “daughter she never had.”

But the probate judge did not approve of how Steele handled the estate and trust of Rosa Parks and removed Read more...

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More Legal Fireworks Involving The Farrah Fawcett Trust

Ryan O’Neal is at it again.  He and Craig Nevius, a Hollywood producer who used to work closely with Farrah Fawcett, are in the midst of more legal fighting against one another.

Initially, they both sued, each claiming the other had exploited Fawcett while she was sick from the cancer that claimed her life.  Why?  They both said the other had taken advantage of her to produce a documentary about her life and her sickness.  Those lawsuits ended when Nevius ran out of money for legal fees.

Now, he has no choice but to continue fighting.  Ryan O’Neal — Farrah’s ex and father to Farrah’s son — has sued Nevius again.  What’s at stake this time?  It’s all about the art.

Specifically, a certain, famed Andy Warhol painting of Fawcett in O’Neal’s possession. O’Neal says Warhol gave it to him years ago.  Not everyone thinks he’s being honest though.

In fact, Farrah Fawcett’s Trust, which you can read here, states that her collection of artwork — which may include Read more...

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Michael Jackson Estate Faces $17.5 Million Insurance Fight

Legal controversy has surrounded the Michael Jackson Estate ever since he died almost two years ago. Trial & Heirs did a year in review article last year; it’s almost time for year two. You can now add a new lawsuit — over $17.5 million worth of insurance — to the list. Michael Jackson Estate

Concert promoter AEG Live took out the large insurance policy over Michael Jackson in case he died and was unable to perform the “This Is It” concert tour. Of course, that’s exactly what happened, showing that AEG was smart to take that precaution. Reportedly, AEG spent some $20 to $25 million on the tour before the King of Pop’s death, and this insurance was supposed to protect that investment. Both AEG and a Michael Jackson limited liability company that is controlled by the Estate were named as beneficiaries eligible to collect that money under the policy.

Michael Jackson Estate Insurance Claim Update

But, AEG and the Estate haven’t collected this money yet … and both are now embroiled in Read more...

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Whitney Houston v. Step-Mother Fight Now In Court of Appeals

While Whitney Houston was reportedly just admitted to rehab, she has one other concern that she still has to face — her no-holds-barred court fight with her late father’s widow.

In Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, Andy and Danielle Mayoras discuss the lawsuit involving Whitney Houston against Barbara Houston over a one million dollar life insurance policy.

You can read about Whitney’s battle against her “step-mother”, including how Whitney used the public lawsuit to attack Barbara Houston and her relationship with Whitney’s father, in this excerpt from Trial & Heirs that was featured on The Huffington Post.

The case has now moved on to the Court of Appeals after Whitney scored a big victory in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey late in 2010. The Judge ruled in her favor, even though he first discussed multiple letters sent between various of Whitney Houston’s accountants and attorneys; several letters validated Barbara Houston’s claim.


These letters supported Barbara’s position that the one million dollar Read more...

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Ringling Bros. Circus heirs give new meaning to family feud

Irvin Feld was a rock-and-roll promoter who purchased “The Greatest Show on Earth” in 1967. He created a promotion company to manage the Ringling Bros. Circus, along with Disney on Ice and monster truck shows, but none of his shows have been as eventful as what’s happened between his two children the last few years.

Feld died in his sleep in 1984. He left most of his assets and his business to his son, Kenneth. His daughter, Karen, reportedly received very little and sued her brother claiming he tried to kick her out of her house. They settled and she was allowed to remain.

Karen also sued Kenneth when he was the trustee of a $5 million trust that their uncle set up for them; that was recently settled as well. The siblings agreed to divide the trust in two so Kenneth would not manage the money left in trust for Karen.

But neither of those fights are the ones that produced so much drama. Rather, the big fight started Read more...

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Dennis Hopper Trust: Widow Turns Divorce Battle into New Lawsuit

The divorce contest between the late Dennis Hopper and his wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, was ugly when he was alive.  It’s turned even uglier since he’s passed away.  Dennis Hopper Trust

Duffy-Hopper dropped a new bomb on the children of the Easy Rider star, and the Trustees of his Trust, by filing two new lawsuits recently in Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles.

In the cases, she claims that his children wrongfully forced her to move out of Hopper’s house, so they could grab a bigger inheritance at her expense.  She alleges Marin Hopper, one of Hopper’s children from a prior marriage, manipulated, coerced and told Hopper “cruel lies”.  She did this, according to one of the lawsuits, to drive a wedge between the happy couple and force him to file for divorce.

Dennis Hopper Trust

But, the marriage couldn’t have been too happy, since Duffy-Hopper takes aim at her late husband, too.  She asks the Court to invalidate the couple’s premarital agreement, saying that Hopper intimidated, coerced and threatened her until Read more...

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Malcolm X Estate: legacy tied up in family feud

Before he was assassinated in 1964, Malcolm X was a polarizing figure. He was revered by many as one of the greatest African-American figures ever, but was accused of racism and antisemitism by others. Perhaps it should not be surprising that his financial legacy is embroiled in conflict and strife. The resulting family feud has created a mess that has not been resolved for more than 14 years.

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little, but became El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His widow, Dr. Betty Shabazz, died tragically from severe burns she received in a fire in 1997, when she was 61. The fire was set by their 12-year old grandson.

No will of Dr. Shabazz was found, although some family members thought she had one. The probate court in New York overseeing her estate appointed two of the couple’s six daughters as the estate administrators.

While the estate was at one time valued at around $1.4 million, with the potential to earn much more, an unpaid tax debt has continued to Read more...

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Farrah Fawcett trust in the midst of ugly lawsuit

Richard Francis is the trustee of The Fawcett Living Trust, Farrah Fawcett’s trust which details how she wanted her money to pass.  You can read the Probate Lawyer Blog’s prior article discussing this interesting trust here.  

On behalf of the trust, Francis sued Hollywood producer Craig Nevius accusing him of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Fawcett’s company and botching production of a television documentary showing her struggles with cancer.

Nevius is not taking the lawsuit lying down.  In fact, he says the entire case is a thinly-disguised attempt by Francis to use money from Fawcett’s trust to protect his own interests.  Nevius had already sued Francis, as well as Ryan O’Neal (Fawcett’s longtime companion) and her friend Alana Stewart when Nevius felt they wrongly excluded him from producing the documentary, which aired on NBC in May of 2009.  In other words, Nevius says that this lawsuit by Francis is retaliation to get back at him for his lawsuit.

But, that’s just the beginning of the fireworks.  Nevius

Read more...
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