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Questions Abound with Audrey Hepburn's Will

Posted by Lizette Sundvick | Mar 01, 2018 | 0 Comments

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“Audrey Hepburn's will has been revealed for the first time in her son's battle against her children's charity over the Hollywood star's name and likeness.”

Sean Hepburn Ferrer sued the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund last fall for infringing trademark and other rights belonging to him and Luca Dotti, his half-brother, according to The Daily Mail's recent article, “Audrey Hepburn's Will Revealed!”

Court documents show that Ferrer has responded to the charity's attempt to have the suit dismissed and has provided excerpts of his mother's will in which both sons were named as principal heirs to her estate and intellectual property after she died in 1993. The will shows that the star left her most precious jewels to her closest family and friends, including the daughter of actor Yul Brynner. Hepburn's will lists French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy as an executor of her estate.

Hepburn died of cancer at 63 years old and had been in a long-term relationship with Dutch actor Robert Wolders at the time of her death. She left him two silver candlesticks which were worth about $500 at the time. Brynner's daughter Victoria received $1,500 worth of tangible personal property, specifically a “Tiffany (Schlumberger) small flower, diamonds and platinum, brooch.”

Hepburn owned three properties in Switzerland. The home was later sold in 2000 for an undisclosed amount. In addition to her estate, the Hollywood icon left her son Sean, Bulgari gold and diamond earrings—a gift she received from his father, Mel Ferrer, on his birth. The brothers also inherited the film rights and royalties pursuant to Hepburn's film contracts, as well as her name and likeness rights and any other similar rights.

Ferrer and Dotti founded the children's charity in their mother's name the year she died and agreed to jointly own and manage her registered trademarks and moniker.  However, the charity experienced legal troubles after Ferrer stepped down as chairman in 2012. Ferrer said he resigned after becoming 'disillusioned' with the fund, but he and Dotti continued to approve of certain uses of Hepburn's likeness on a case-by-case basis. Issues arose when Ferrer ended the charity's license, which allowed them to use Hepburn's name. He claimed it has continued to use his mother's intellectual property for years without permission.

Ferrer's lawsuit, filed in October 2017, came some months after the charity sued him for “intentional interference with contractual relationships.” It claimed he'd become increasingly “hostile” to its use of Hepburn's IP that interfered with their fundraising.

Ferrer had also accused the fund of improperly retaining possession of his property, such as legal and financial records, contracts, samples of merchandise bearing Hepburn's name, image, and trademarks, scripts, and other documents.

About the Author

Lizette Sundvick

Lizette B. Sundvick is one of the longest practicing female attorneys in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has been a member of WealthCounsel, LLC since 2002 and has received training from various legal and coaching organizations, such as WealthCounsel, LLC, the Nevada WealthCounsel Forum (Founding President – 2009-2012), National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys,...

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