Audrey Hepburn's legacy still under dispute

Audrey Hepburn's legacy still under dispute

Audrey Hepburn’s legacy still under dispute

by | Inheritance

The luminous star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a movie and fashion icon.  Audrey Hepburn passed away in 1993.  After a 2 year legal battle, her sons finally have a resolution on her memorabilia sales profits this week.

Court papers obtained by British newspapers reveal the half-brothers were promised a 50/50 split of Hepburn’s estate when she died in 1993.  Hepburn was 63 when she died. She spent the last years of her life as a UNICEF ambassador and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992.

Her son’s, Sean Ferrer, 56, and Luca Dotti, 47, later signed a deal with Christie’s auction house to sell some of Hepburn’s prized possessions whilst retaining personal keepsakes.   So what was the reason for the law suit?

In May of 2015, Ferrer sued Dotti over the division of the classic posters, costumes, gloves, scripts, awards and photos kept in the Los Angeles storage locker.

Hepburn left a handwritten will, but she was ambiguous about the items she wished to gift.  She simply stated the son’s be awarded equal shares.  This could be interpreted in so many ways – equal in volume, amount of items or value?  Value at the time of death or value at sale?  She may not have envisaged the potential cash value of the movie mementos in the years following her death, nor the falling out of her kin.

Hepburn’s little black dress she wore in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s was auctioned at Christie’s in 2006 for an astonishing $920,909.  The sales have raised a considerable sum.   The son’s legal settlement reveals items will be divided by pieces to be given to Christie’s to be sold for profit, items they would each retain and items they already had in their possession.  Other issues about the estate remain ongoing.

There can be no room for ambiguity in will writing.  Your wishes should be drafted as precisely as possible.  If there are heirlooms and keepsakes to be left to certain loved ones, make sure your will drafter understands. If there are items of significant value, or likely to increase in value in later years, you may want to consider valuations if these items are not already insured.

Audrey Hepburn was considered the epitome of style and grace. She should have also been specific…….

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