Squabble Over Oleg Cassini's Estate

     (CN) - The widow of Oleg Cassini, the designer who created Jackie Kennedy's pillbox hats, wants to stop her late husband's two children from a previous marriage to actress Gene Tierney from taking half of Cassini's estate. Cassinia died in 2006.
     Cassini, "designer for the stars" and personal designer for Jacqueline Kennedy during her stay in the White House, was married to Gene Tierney from 1941 to 1952, the heyday of her film career.
     Tierney was nominated for an Academy Award for best actress for "Leave Her to Heaven," and also starred in "Laura" and "Heaven Can Wait," among others. She had two daughters with Oleg Cassini, Christina Belmont and Daria Cassini. They were divorced in 1952, according to Marianne Nestor Cassini's complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court.
     The plaintiff married Oleg Cassini in 1971. Their marriage lasted until he died in November 2006, at 92.
     Oleg's will directed money to his two daughters with Tierney: $500,000 in trust for Daria and $1 million to Christina. The rest, Marianne says, Oleg left to her.
     But Christina sued the estate in February 2007, demanding 25 percent of her father's estate, Marianne says. She adds that as part of the 1952 divorce agreement, Cassini and Tierney said they would not try to claim any of the other's money.
     "Each party hereto releases and forever discharges the other party, her or his heirs, executors, administrators, assigns, property and estate from any and all rights, claims, demands and obligations of every kind and nature," the couple's agreement stated, according to the complaint.
     It adds that that document also stated: "Husband agrees that he will by testamentary disposition leave not less than one-half of his net estate, after payment of debts and taxes, to Daria and Christina in equal proportions."
     Marianne claims that that provision is unenforceable, having been made more than 60 years ago.
     "The unreasonable delay has caused Oleg Cassini to be lulled into a belief that any judgment would not and/or could not be enforced and is now unable to defend himself," the complaint states.
     Marianne seeks declaration that the provision giving half of Cassini's estate to his children is unenforceable or is limited to the amount of his estate at the time of the 1952 divorce.
     Marianne Cassini is represented by Michael Davisson, Valerie Rojas and Calvin Whang with Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold.