Sunday 25 June 2017

Relatives lose court fight over millionaire art collector's estate

Tim Healy

RELATIVES of a late millionaire art collector have lost their High Court action challenging his will in which he left the bulk of his estate to a male friend.

Former Jacobs boss Gordon Lambert left most of his estate to Anthony Lyons -- the man he shared a great rapport with.

Bachelor Gordon Lambert's estate included the €4.5m proceeds from the sale of his home at Hillside Drive, Rathfarnham, Dublin.

Mark Lambert, a nephew, of Rathdown Park, Greystones, Wicklow, and June Lambert, a niece and godchild of Pembroke Lane, Dublin, had asked the High Court to strike down the will Mr Lambert made in 2003 and a later amendment disqualifying any beneficiary who challenged it.

Trust

Gordon Lambert was a successful businessman who left more than 300 paintings and sculptures to IMMA in trust. These included works by Picasso and Louis le Brocquy. He was suffering from Parkinson's disease before he died in January 2005, aged 85, with no children.

The relatives claimed their uncle's friend and executor of the will, Anthony Lyons (75), of Beaumont Avenue, Churchtown, Dublin, who also held power of attorney for him before he died, placed undue pressure on him "as to sap his free will" to such an extent that Mr Lambert could not freely dispose of his assets.

Mr Lambert's relatives also claimed they were prevented from visiting or speaking to him from 2002, despite them having had "a close and affectionate relationship" previously.

Ms Lambert claimed it was her uncle's "dying wish" to alter the will -- but this was never done because of the unavailability of a solicitor.

During the High Court hearing, which lasted 13 days, the court was told that under the terms of a 2003 will, Mr Lambert's family interests were to be capped at €200,000.

His home was sold for €4.5m and Mr Lyons, a former press and information officer with RTE, was to receive three-quarters of the residue, totalling €3.6m.

Mr Lyons told the court he was the largest single beneficiary of the will.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Roderick Murphy ruled there was no evidence of undue influence or duress and allowed Mr Lambert's last will to stand.

Afterwards, Mr Lyons said he had been vindicated by the court decision while Ms Lambert, who was also in court, declined to comment.

Executors

The High Court proceedings were also against two other executors of the will: Olive Beaumont, of Hytesbury Lane, Ballsbridge, Dublin, who was a trustee of the Gordon Lambert Collection and a senior curator at IMMA; and Catherine Marshall, of Kevin Street, Dublin.

There was no claim of impropriety against Ms Beaumont or Ms Marshall and all three executors denied the Lamberts' claims.

The court heard evidence from Mr Lyons who said Gordon Lambert had given him power of attorney because he believed his family would put him into a home.

"I didn't realise I was in his will at all. I don't have an interest in other people's money. I always earned my own," Mr Lyons told the court.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News