Before he was assassinated in 1964, Malcolm X was a polarizing figure. He was revered by many as one of the greatest African-American figures ever, but was accused of racism and anti-semitism by others. Perhaps it should not be surprising that his financial legacy is embroiled in conflict and strife. The resulting family feud has created a mess that has not been resolved for more than 14 years.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little, but became El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His widow, Dr. Betty Shabazz, died tragically from severe burns she received in a fire in 1997, when she was 61. The fire was set by their 12-year old grandson.
No will of Dr. Shabazz was found, although some family members thought she had one. The probate court in New York overseeing her estate appointed two of the couple's six daughters as the estate administrators.
While the estate was at one time valued at around $1.4 million, with the potential to earn much more, an unpaid tax debt has continued to grow as the family fights. This New York Times article about the family battle reports that the tax debt has grown so large during the fighting that it now exceeds the value of the estate.