Stan Lee is either “in need of a superhero himself,” as a friend told the Hollywood Reporter for a lengthy story on Tuesday, or he’s fine, as the comic book legend himself declared in a video he sent to TMZ two days later. Either way, Lee’s living situation and the management of his $50 million-plus estate is making headlines. The situation is complicated, with enough characters and drama to fill a book, and time is of the essence in addressing whatever’s going on — if something is, in fact, going on — since Lee is 95.
Why is this coming up now?
Since Lee’s wife, Joan, died on July 6, 2017, several unsettling events have happened to her famous widower, and not just the health problems that can be expected with a person of Lee’s age. Since December, TMZ has reported police investigations of the disappearance of millions from Lee’s bank account, in at least three separate incidents. Police officers showed up at Lee’s home in February when a former employee allegedly refused to leave. His production company, Pow! Entertainment, told the Los Angeles Police Department that his daughter and Keya Morgan, the man who controls his affairs, showed up at his offices “in the middle of the night” on March 15 and “removed several items,” even though Lee continues to have access to the facility. (Morgan reportedly provided a video of Lee saying he asked him and his daughter to retrieve some of his belongings.) Then Bleeding Cool reported that, at last week’s Silicon Valley Comic Con, fans referred to Lee’s appearance as “Weekend at Stan Lee’s.” After this week’s stories from THR and TMZ, the paper of record, the New York Times, covered it too.
The unlikely social media star even shared a letter from Pow! Entertainment addressing the issue, although it didn’t shed much light on it.
— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) April 12, 2018
On Friday, Lee filed a lawsuit against his former business manager, Jerardo “Jerry” Olivarez, claiming fraud.
How is Lee’s relationship with his daughter described in the reports?
The 67-year-old daughter of Stan and his late wife goes by J.C. THR described her as “unruly,” and having a “powder-keg relationship” with her father. Household staff and those who’ve worked with Lee told the publication that she has been physically abusive to both her parents. Bradley J. Herman, a former Lee business manager, said that’s what happened in 2014, when J.C. had assumed a new Jaguar in the driveway had been bought for her, only to find out that it was leased in Stan’s name. Herman said J.C. “roughly grabbed her mother by one arm, shoving her against a window.” When her father said in response that he was cutting her off financially, J.C. allegedly grabbed him by the neck and slammed his head against the chair he was sitting in.
She has denied that the incident occurred. In the new report from the NYT, Lee said, “My daughter has been a great help to me.” However, his story was different in a declaration that he signed in February and that THR obtained. In the document, Lee noted that his adult daughter has always been supported by her parents and has never had a job or income, but regularly charges $20,000 to $40,000 per month on credit cards funded by her parents. He also said his daughter has been abusive to him. He then identified three men as “bad actors with bad intentions,” who have “insinuated themselves into relationships” with her for “ulterior motives and purposes,” and are trying to “gain control of my assets, property, and money.” None of the four people named, including J.C., were to be named his guardian or executor, according to the document.
Morgan supplied a video of Lee calling the document “totally incorrect, inaccurate, misleading, and insulting.”
J.C. declined to speak with THR, but her attorney, Kurt Schenck, gave a comment: “The story isn’t that J.C. is taking advantage of her father, but that she’s potentially being taken advantage of by multiple men.”
Who are those “bad actors with bad intentions”?
Lee named three men in that declaration, including Olivarez, the Lee consultant who eventually obtained power of attorney for him and who is now being sued by him. Other Lee associates accused Olivarez of taking more than $1 million of that missing money. He said the money he took from Lee was a gift, most of it for an $850,000 condo in a secure building, because Olivarez had received death threats.
Schenck, J.C.’s lawyer, was cited. The third man named in that February declaration that Lee now says is “inaccurate” is Morgan. According to the Times, he’s a native New Yorker who was once a memorabilia dealer, but currently controls the affairs of the creator of Superman. He’s also the person behind the video Lee gave TMZ, demanding that the media leave him and his friend Morgan alone. (Notice the credit on the bottom.) Morgan is the man planning to make a Lee biopic.
Who else is involved?
A man named Mac “Max” Anderson is also a notable person in the story. He’s a former road manager for Lee who told THR that he’s been pushed out of the star’s life by Lee’s daughter and Morgan. He’s the one who police removed from Lee’s property back in February, and he continues to be part of the narrative. The same publication said a video provided showed one of Lee’s nurses telling J.C. and Morgan that Anderson had found her in the street and offered her $50,000 to say, in a declaration, that Lee was being held against his will. (Anderson admitted he did so, and that he believes such a statement is factual, but “did not bribe her.”)
Another name to know is Linda Sanchez, who began working as Stan’s nurse following Joan’s death. She signed her own declaration on Feb. 20, in which she wrote about J.C.’s conflicts with Stan and said that people close to him were speaking to him about financial issues without his lawyer present. Sanchez alleged that Morgan had leaked to the media a false story about her having a romantic relationship with her famous boss around the time of the declaration. She also said he threatened to expose DUI and hit-and-run incidents in her past if she told people about instances of elder abuse she said she’d seen. Morgan told THR that he didn’t leak the story and doesn’t have “ill will” toward Sanchez.
And what is this weird thing about Lee’s blood being swiped for a business venture?
Here’s where Olivarez comes up again. According to TMZ, Lee claims in his lawsuit against Olivarez that he didn’t actually give that money to him, as Olivarez had said. Lee also stated in the lawsuit, through his lawyer Jonathan Freund, that Olivarez had a nurse extract blood from Lee and, without his knowledge, sold the star’s blood as a collectible.
This weird, sad story isn’t over yet.
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