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August 2010

Joe Jackson refuses to stay out of the Michael Jackson estate

Even though Michael Jackson's father was not included as a beneficiary in his will or trust, it hasn't stopped Joe Jackson from trying to intercede in the legal proceedings surrounding the estate.  First, he asked the judge to remove estate executors John Branca and John McClain.Joe Jackson Michael Jackson

The probate judge dismissed his claims, saying he lacked "standing" in the estate because he was not a beneficiary.  In other words, he did not have enough of a financial interest in the estate to be able to legally complain about who was in charge.

Recently, Joe Jackson filed an appeal of that decision, arguing that he was financially dependent on his son while he was alive, so he did have enough of an interest to attack the executors. 

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Families Needed for new TV show "Estate Wars"

We are consulting for a new television pilot called "Estate Wars," which involves families fighting or in conflict over personal effects (antiques, coin collections or jewelry) after a loved one passes away.  The goal of the show is to have the conflict resolved with the help of an appraiser and mediator.
If you know any families involved in a conflict like this that would be interested in being on TV, please have them contact us at as soon as possible. The pilot is being produced for a top-ranked national cable station by the Emmy Award winning production company behind "Storm Chasers", "The Rachel Zoe Project", and "LA Ink".

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Happy anniversary of Elvis Presley's "death"

I've had many people contact me wondering about Eliza Presley's case and her efforts to prove that she is the daughter of Vernon Presley and half-sister of Elvis Presley.  In doing so, she's also trying to show that Elvis is still alive and she has DNA evidence to prove it.Elvis gravesite

So it seemed appropriate to share an update about her case on August 16th, 2010 ... exactly 33 years after the day that the history books mark as when Elvis died.  Click here to review the first installment of my four-part discussion about Eliza's case and why -- as hard as it was for me to swallow at first -- I believe she's telling the truth and Elvis really is alive.

On August 6, 2010, Eliza's attorney filed a Motion for Default Judgment, asking the Chauncery Court in Tennessee to enter a default judgment on her Complaint to Determine Parentage and Heirship against Lisa Marie Presley and all other surviving or unknown heirs of Vernon Presley.  You can read the Motion for Default here.

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Gary Coleman estate battles about to heat up

It's been a relatively-quiet couple of months in the Gary Coleman estate, after the two weeks of craziness that followed his sudden death on May 28, 2010.  It looks like that's about to change.Gary Coleman wedding picture

A short recap:  Coleman's ex-wife, Shannon Price, used her medical power of attorney document to terminate Coleman's life support, which upset his estranged parents.  They then filed to open his estate, saying he died without a will, and stopped Price from planning his funeral.

But there was a will.  Coleman's ex-manager, Dion Mial, came forward with a 1999 will naming him as the executor in charge.  But wait! 

There was a later will, in 2005, naming Coleman's female friend and former companion, Anna Gray as the one to be in charge of his estate.  So she's in control, right?  No!

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The Barnes Art Collection Controversy, Part II

Dr. Albert Barnes built one of the most impressive art collections ever owned by a private individual.Dr. Albert Barnes  Its value was estimated to be more than 25 billion dollars.  The controversy surrounding the collection decades after Dr. Barnes died rocked the art world. 

This is the second installment of a two-part series covering the controversy.  You can read Part I here to learn how Dr. Barnes' detailed wishes to safeguard the collection in a building he chose, as expressed in his trust document, were completely thwarted by Philadelphia's art "elite", whom Dr. Barnes despised until he unexpectedly died in 1951.

Many current and former students and teachers of the Barnes Foundation, along with neighbors and the local township and county governments, banded together to try to protect Dr. Barnes' vision.  They formed the Friends of the Barnes Foundation (which has a very informative website). 

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The Barnes Art Collection Controversy, Part I

The powerful story surrounding the legacy of Dr. Albert C. Barnes and his historic art collection was captured in a documentary released on DVD last week, called The Art of the Steal.Matisse

While this isn't the typical way we track down stories, it certainly was highly entertaining.  The Art of the Steal is a must-watch; it's not only moving and compelling, it is thoroughly enjoyable.

So who was Dr. Albert Barnes?  Raised in a Philadelphia working-class family, he found extraordinary wealth by inventing a new antiseptic medicine to treat and prevent venereal diseases at the start of the 20th Century.  He used his wealth to build what is widely considered to be the greatest collection of post-impressionist art ever assembled.  It includes hundreds of works by masters like Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh . . . and on and on.  The collection has been valued at 25 to 30 billion dollars, at least.

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