A lengthy Hollywood Reporter investigation has revealed that the grandchildren of entertainment magnate Walt Disney are at the centre of a heated, ongoing legal battle over inheritance, involving accusations of conspiracy and incest.
As Disney's grandchildren, Bradford Lund and his twin sister, Michelle Lund, offspring of Disney's deceased youngest daughter, Sharon Mae Disney, were promised a portion of inheritance on their 35th, 40th and 45th birthdays.
However, the trustees who distribute the money were empowered by the twins' mother to withhold the money if the recipients did not display "maturity and financial ability to manage and utilize such funds in a prudent and responsible manner."
Bradford Lund, 43, had the first two installments of his inheritance withheld by the trustees, while his sister received them - leading to a lawsuit launched by Lund and his father, Bill, against the estate's three trustees.
Meryl Streep accuses Walt Disney of sexism, anti-Semitism in lengthy National Board of Review speech
Actress Meryl Streep went off on somewhat of a tear at the National Board of Review's awards gala on Tuesday night, accusing Walt Disney of being a "gender bigot" with "racist proclivities" in a speech honouring award recipient Emma Thompson.
Streep made the remarks before presenting Thompson for an award for her portrayal of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in the film Saving Mr. Banks. The film details the long road taken by Walt Disney to have Travers agree to let her book be adapted by him into a feature-length film.
After asking the assembled audience whether they'd prefer the short or long version of her prepared speech - and being met with applause for the long version - Streep launched into her criticism of Disney.
Robert Wilson, who replaced Disney's elder daughter, Diane, as trustee for the inheritance when she resigned in 1997, described that the caveat as "specifically for Brad; Sharon did not want to highlight Brad to be different and treated different than his sisters. It was code words that Brad will never get his distribution."
The Hollywood Reporter says that Bradford Lund has been described as having Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome, and has held a number of different jobs before moving from Orange County, Calif., to live next to his father and stepmother in Phoenix.
The case that went to the L.A. Superior Court in December of last year examined a number of factors that Bradford Lund, his father, stepmother and lawyer claim should make him eligible to receive his inheritance.
Michelle Lund, diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, previously believed to have suffered with addiction issues and having suffered from a brain aneurysm in 2009. Sharon Mae Disney's daughter from her first marriage, Victoria Brown, was known to the trustees to have addiction issues and erratic behaviour, but she received her 35th birthday inheritance. A year later, in 2002, Brown died from health complications, and the rest of her inheritance money in trust was added into the pool that would go to the other grandchildren.
Bradford Lund and his legal team claim that he has the right to receive his inheritance, because his twin sister and Brown received their inheritance despite issues with mental health and drug use.
Furthermore, Bradford Lund alleged that the Disney trustees benefit from increased fees collected by withholding his inheritance. He also claims that his sister received her inhertiance because it went back into the same bank, First Republic Trust Co., and they would benefit by receiving a management fees.
The case is further complicated by guardianship developments over Bradford Lund, with some doctors describing him as needing supervision while others judge him to be competent.
Bradford Lund was also questioned about whether he's had physical relations with his stepsister who lives with him, which he denied. His stepmother claimed he spent two days in his room, distraught over the question.
In late March, L.A. Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff delivered a decision that the trustees weren't withholding the inheritance for their own personal gain.
"The court is convinced that the Trustees sincerely believe that Mr. Lund does not have the maturity and financial ability to manage and utilize a substantial trust distribution," the decision read. "The Trustees are legitimately concerned about Mr. Lund's ability to protect himself from those around him who may wish to take financial advantage of him."
Beckloff did concede that the bank in question should be removed from the equation.
The family plans to appeal the ruling.