Anna Nicole Smith inheritance claim shot down by Supreme Court
This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
Anna Nicole Smith — her estate, actually — isn't entitled to a dime from the $1.6-million fortune left behind by husband J. Howard Marshall II, in the wake of a decision by the Supreme Court.
Yes, "Anna Nicole Smith" and "Supreme Court" were just mentioned in the same irony-free sentence.
Smith had sued the estate of her late husband, who died in 1995 at 90 after the two had been married for only a year, maintaining she had been promised $400 million. Smith, born Vickie Lynn Hogan, was 26 when she married the elder Marshall, then 89. Primary heir Pierce Marshall had disagreed with her claim, because his dad's will hadn't mentioned the former Playboy model, stripper and soft-core actress who in February 2007 would die of an overdose.
Smith sued in Texas probate court, where she lost, and California bankruptcy court, where she won, in the form of an award of $475 million in damages to be paid by the estate. The dispute over whether the bankruptcy court had the right to actually make such a decision then worked its way through appelate courts, finally landing with the Supremes.
Word from Washington? The bankruptcy court blew it — which means Smith's complaint can finally rest in peace.
Smith, whose son Daniel Smith died of an overdose at age 20 in September 2006, is survived by daughter Dannielynn, whose father was neither Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband nor Smith attorney and partner Howard K. Stern but rather one Larry Birkhead, who is raising the toddler as a single dad.
Anna Nicole Smith's inheritance, had it turned out to be hers, would have passed to Dannielynn.
[For the record, 11 p.m. June 26: This post originally said Smith died in February 2008; she died in February 2007. The post also has been updated to make several points clear: The money still at issue was $475 million (later reduced to $89 million) in damages awards by the bankruptcy court, to be paid by the Marshall estate to the Smith estate. The question facing the Supreme Court was whether the bankruptcy court had the constitutional right to rule in the probate issue. The Supreme Court agreed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to throw out the bankruptcy court's ruling, which means no money will go to Team Smith.]
— Christie D'Zurilla
Photo: Anna Nicole Smith arrives in downtown L.A. in October 1999 for opening arguments in her bankruptcy case. Credit: Jim Ruymen / Agence France Presse/Getty Images