The Los Angeles Times provides elaborate details about Michael Crichton’s heirs and who will benefit from the $100 million sale of his art collection at Christie’s this May. Even though Crichton was on the board of LACMA, no art was bequeathed to a museum in his will:
Brett Gorvy, deputy chairman of Christie’s Americas, said he expects the sale to bring in about $100 million. The money will go to Crichton’s widow, children and other heirs and to pay estate taxes. The rules of inheritance for wealthy individuals such as Crichton are rarely simple, and they have provided drama in this case, which combines vast wealth and valuable works of art.
Crichton’s 2007 will provided for the vast majority of his assets, including his art, to be placed in a private trust benefiting his fifth wife, Sherri, his then-teenage daughter from a prior marriage and other family members, friends and employees as well as a charitable foundation. At the time of his death from cancer the following year, his wife was six months’ pregnant with their son, John Michael Todd. The will did not provide for the unborn child.
After the boy’s birth, Sherri Crichton said her husband had been updating his estate plan to include the child, and she petitioned the court to designate him an heir. The author’s daughter from his fourth marriage, Taylor — now a 21-year-old college student living in New York — fought the move, but in October, a Superior Court judge in L.A. ruled that her infant half brother was entitled to a third of their father’s estate. The addition of another beneficiary threw off the complex system Crichton established, but on Monday, Judge Michael Levanas signed off on a plan to rejigger distribution of assets.
Adam Streisand, the attorney who represents Sherri Crichton and her son, said the May art sale would have been necessary to pay the bequests and cover taxes regardless of the need to restructure the trust. “Art is really not the easiest thing in the world to value, and the auction and the sale will give us liquid assets in which we can start to distribute the estate,” Streisand said. “Everybody agrees that it should occur.”
Christie’s to Auction Off Michael Crichton’s Art Collection (Los Angeles Times)