Tony Curtis Auction Renews Last Will and Testament Controversy

Sep 19, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
A recent auction of late actor Tony Curtis' possessions was undertaken without the approval of his children, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

The widow of acting legend Tony Curtis recently sold about 500 items belonging to her late husband, and the auction renewed the controversy surrounding Curtis' last will and testament and his trust.

Curtis revised his last will and trust in May 2010, shortly before his death, explicitly disinheriting all five of his children, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

According to the provisions of the revised will, Curtis' widow, Jill Vandenberg Curtis, became the primary beneficiary of his estate. Alleging that Curtis had changed his will under duress or undue influence, his eldest daughter, Kelly Lee Curtis, filed suit against Vandenberg Curtis.

While that suit is pending, Curtis' widow held the recent auction at Julien's in Beverly Hills and did not distribute any of the proceeds to his children, nor did she give them a chance to claim any objects of sentimental value. A Warhol painting and a jacket Curtis wore in "Some Like it Hot" were among the items sold, Forbes reports.

Allegra Curtis, another of Tony's daughters, told the Hollywood Reporter her father would have disapproved of the situation. Auctioneer Darren Julien told the source that the actor visited the auction house prior to his death and indicated his desire for this arrangement.

Writing about the auction in Forbes, Danielle and Andy Mayoras, hosts of the television special "Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune!" stressed that estate planning is best completed well in advance to avoid claims of coercion or undue influence.