Smith's estate seeks high court help

March 10, 2009 7:10:37 AM PDT
Lawyers for the late Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith have asked the Supreme Court for help in a big money dispute involving her dead husband and his dead son. Smith, who also was a model, stripper and reality TV star, was 26 when she married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994. He died a year later, and a federal judge later awarded Smith $88.5 million of Marshall's money despite complaints from his son, E. Pierce Marshall, who controlled the fortune.

Smith argued that her husband had made an oral promise to give her half his estate. Pierce Marshall said various wills and trusts his father had prepared over the years named him sole heir.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held up the $88.5 million award while the case was being appealed.

The Supreme Court ruled in May 2006 that Smith could pursue her late husband's fortune in federal court. Smith's lawyers said that days later, the younger Marshall "apparently stripped himself of nearly all his assets - valued in the billions of dollars - and transferred them out of his possession."

Pierce Marshall died in June 2006, but the appeals court has not lifted its hold, or stay, on the award. Smith, who was born Vickie Lynn Hogan, died of an accidental drug overdose in Florida in 2007. She was 39.

In court papers, Smith's lawyers say Marshall's executor values his estate at slightly over $125 million, with most owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

"Vickie's estate will undeniably suffer irreparable harm if the stay is not vacated, as Pierce's executor claims there is no money to pay the district court judgment, and Vickie's estate cannot pursue Pierce's missing billions unless and until the stay is vacated," Smith's lawyers said Monday.

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