Anna Nicole Smith
Of the all the celebrity bankruptcies, Anna Nicole Smith’S was perhaps the most interesting. Smith was a model and actress and the 1993 Playboy Playmate of the Year. She was a featured model for clothing companies, including Guess Jeans and Lane Bryant. In 1994 Smith, who was then 26 years old, married an oil tycoon who was 89 at the time. Many speculated that she married him for his money. Upon her husband’s death, Smith and her husband’s son, E. Pierce Marshall, began a fierce and protracted legal battle over her claim for half of her late husband’s $1.6 billion estate. The case went on for more than a decade. In 1996 an employee of Smith’s obtained a judgment against her for sexual harassment. The judgment was for $850,000.00. To avoid collection, Smith filed bankruptcy and listed her interest in her husband’s estate as an asset. The California bankruptcy court determined that nearly $500 million was owed to her from the probate estate. However, a Houston, Texas state court judge determined that she was entitled to nothing and ordered her to pay $1 million in fees and expenses to Marshall’s lawyers. The matter then moved into Federal court. In 2004 the Federal Court of Appeals in California reversed the bankruptcy court decision stating that a Federal court did not have jurisdiction to overrule a probate decision from a State court. The case made its way up to the United States Supreme Court which held that Smith did have the right to pursue a share of her husband’s estate in Federal court. Shortly after that decision, Marshall [the son] passed away. In 2007, Smith was found unresponsive in a hotel in Florida and later died at a hospital. The coroner determined that she died from an overdose of prescription drugs. Her bankruptcy case continued, however, and in 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Federal bankruptcy court could not make a decision on any issue outside of bankruptcy law, including the probating of an estate.