And Getting Your Affairs in Order
Hard on the heels of the spectacular event at Sotheby’s this week where thousands showed up to view the Valmadonna Trust library–and dozens of those viewers stopped by to thank and congratulate Jack Lunzer, the collector who assembled the trove–comes this story from Ireland. The octogenarian Lunzer’s sale was an attempt to see his great work find a safe home before his frailty catches up with him. Anne Bullitt was not a distinguished collector. She is the only daughter of William Bullitt and Lousie Bryant. He was a US Ambassador to the Soviet Union and France; she the radical made famous in Warren Beatty’s “Reds.”
Anne Bullitt lived in Ireland for 40 years and was a successful horse breeder. But as that business wound down and her health began to fail, her estate, including the contents of her home among which are a Picasso painting, a Ming vase and a pair of pistols given to Lafayette by George Washington. These items are now part of a dispute in the Irish courts. The Irish Times summarizes the cause:
[W]hen her financial advisers came to see her, they had to read out documents, he said. By 1997, she was living in three rooms in the stately home and her bedroom was only ever lit by artificial light, Mr Shipsey added. However, Ms Bullitt was “an independent and determined lady”. She had decided to sell Palmerstown House and discussions took place between her advisers and a number of interested parties.
One of those was a developer who offered IR£8.2 million for the house and estate, counsel said. However, about the same time, the advisers became aware Ms Bullitt, who was 75 and in poor health, had agreed to sell for IR£10 million to Mr Mansfield. This caused “a degree of consternation” with her advisers who had already orally agreed a deal with the first developer, counsel said. [ . . . ] The court would hear evidence that Ms Bullitt’s advisers became concerned about her ability to manage her affairs and they asked that she be made a ward of court. They arranged for a psychiatrist to visit her in July 1998 but to say she was unco-operative was “an understatement”, Mr Shipsey said. The psychiatrist’s interview was “terminated in a very peremptory manner” and in 2000, the president of the High Court made her a ward of court.
Estate of US Socialite Disputed in High Court (The Irish Times)