Category Archives: News

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~ Kellen W. Bradley

ASU Sports & Entertainment Law Journal

Elizabeth Taylor Estate Update – Posthumous Protection?

As you will recall from my post two weeks ago – “The Dame is Dead, Long Live the Dame” – our beloved Elizabeth Taylor leaves behind a massive estate. Her assets on hand to be divided are sizeable, estimated at $600 million. More importantly, she continues to make money after her death: film royalties, perfume line, jewelry line, the list goes on… Additionally, her image continues to be marketable after her death.

Certain celebrity estates, such as Elvis Presley’s, have protected the posthumous image very stringently. What is not yet clear is to what degree Liz’s estate planning documents were drafted to continue to protect her marketability and ensure that the income goes to her beneficiaries. In order to ensure such protection, it will be necessary to exercise a certain level of vigilance – an infraction is only stopped based on the proactive decision to enter a civil suit. This is not something that a government entity is tasked with protecting, and rightly so, as it is the beneficiaries that stand to gain from image protection – not the general public. That being said, it is still appropriate that these protections should be afforded, hopefully the estate will diligently maintain their rights.

Though the details of her image protection are not known yet – there has already been some drama in regard to the appointment of Jason Winters as the administrator of the will. Winters was apparently a close confidante with Liz later in her life, leading to his appointment as administrator. Some have questioned if his appointment was appropriate because they were so close, but at this point her children (who would have the best grounds to object as they are her heirs, and if the Liz died intestate they would stand to inherit significantly more than they will under the terms of her will) have yet to object. Winters will receive a fee for his role as administrator, which leads to some of the concerns about impropriety.

Liz leaves a wonderful charitable legacy, and with appropriate estate planning her bequests can be maximized to affect her intent to the highest possible degree. Hopefully Winters is up to the task of administering such a large estate.

That is all for now – stay tuned for more news and analysis as it becomes available!

The Dame is Dead, Long Live the Dame!

We lost a legend yesterday. Early yesterday morning Dame Elizabeth Taylor passed away at the age of 79 after more than a month long hospitalization in Cedars Sinai due to congestive heart failure. Liz’s contributions to the film world are legendary. She is in an elite class of women who have won TWO Academy Awards, one for Butterfield 8 in 1960 and the other for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in 1966. She is likely most known for her performance in Cleopatra where she worked with Richard Burton, who she later married – twice.

Beyond being a screen legend, Liz has also been the subject of tabloid fodder throughout the years, with a grand total of eight marriages (Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd, Eddie Fisher (who at the time was still married to Debbie Reynolds, but it appears they eventually buried the hatchet on that one), Richard Burton, Richard Burton again, John Warner, and Larry Fortensky). She is survived by her four children (Michael Howard Wilding, Christopher Edward Wilding, Elizabeth Frances “Liza” Todd, and Maria Burton), ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. She joins her dear friend Michael Jackson, who she supported throughout his trials and tribulations, but sadly he predeceased her.

Ideally, the Dame will be most remembered for her AIDS work.  In 1985 she worked with Mathilde Krim and a small group of doctors to create the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Later, in October 1991 she created the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and has continued to work tirelessly to fundraise for her causes. Many say that her dedication came from the great guilt she carried after the death of her dear friend Rock Hudson. Regardless of the truth in that, she has truly carried the torch for AIDS research, without her we would likely not be nearly as far as we are today, for that we must say thank you.

A woman of many talents, The Dame also has perfume and jewelry empires. Her perfume collection includes: White Diamonds, Black Pearls, and Passion – together they bring in an estimated $200million/year. That is no chump change. Throughout her life Liz has also been known for her jewels: the Krupp diamond (at 33.19 carats), the Taylor/Burton diamond (pear shaped – 69.42 carats), La Peregrina Pearl (50 carats), and many more. Her extensive collection was chronicled in the 2002 book, “My Love Affair with Jewelry,” that included photographs taken by New York photographer John Bigelow Taylor. Liz designed jewelry in The Elizabeth Collection for Piranesi that sells at Christie’s, bringing her love of beautiful things to the masses.

Throughout her life The Dame has lived in many wonderful places, to date she owns homes in California, Hawaii, and Switzerland (Chalet Ariel). Up until her death she was still making money through her jewelry and perfume lines, not to mention the continuing royalties for her work in film. With four children, most of separate marriages, an attorney might wonder how complicated her estate is likely to be. There have been reports that there was tension between her children over her estate when she entered the hospital in February, whether or not this is true is certainly a family matter, but one cannot deny that many complicated transactions will likely take place. She simply had too many assets for it to be otherwise; furthermore, what separates those in the entertainment industry from us mere mortals is that their estates can continue to make money long after they are dead. There is such great value in the intellectual property of stars, as well as their continuing image, and the royalties that must continue to be paid!

According to one report, the Dame intends for her manuscript to be published after her death. If this is true it will certainly be interesting to see. Stay tuned for more information as news comes out – even if all of the parties remain amicable, it will still be a very complex estate. The Dame is dead, long live the Dame!

Weekly Sports & Entertainment Law PULSE

Look no further for the latest in Sports & Entertainment Law News!



  • Feds begin to game plan for the perjury trial of former baseball star Barry Bonds.
  • The International Olympic Committee rejects the “food” defense and wants to continue strict liability in regards to banned substances.
  • lawsuit that is set for this spring accuses TCU of fraud for turning a blind eye to the criminal actions of two of three athletes.
  • An attorney from Birmingham finally steps up to take on the case of the man accussed of poisoning oak trees on Auburn’s campus.
  • Columbian soccer player could face jail time for kicking opposing team’s lucky owl.  The owl unfortunately did not make it.
  • The NFL, and the player’s union maneuver ahead of deadline.
  • Indians confirm that outfielder Kearns was arrested for DUI.

Tell us what you think! We would love to hear your opinion.

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Weekly Entertainment PULSE

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Tell us what you think! We would love to hear your opinion.

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Weekly Entertainment PULSE

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Tell us what you think! We would love to hear your opinion.

Be sure to check in next Wednesday for the PULSE!!