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September 28, 2000 09:06am
Anna Nicole Smith Awarded $449.7M
Source: AP
by: Denise Petski

(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- A federal bankruptcy judge awarded former Playboy Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith $449.7 million Wednesday in her claim to the estate of her late billionaire husband, Texas oilman J. Howard Marshall.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Samuel Bufford ruled that Marshall's youngest son, E. Pierce Marshall, had deprived Smith ``of her expectancy of an inheritance.''

Her attorney, Philip Boesch Jr., said Smith was ``very pleased'' and believes the ruling ``puts the matter to rest.''

Marshall called the ruling a ``miscarriage of justice'' and said he would appeal.

Bufford's decision came just a day before jury selection was scheduled to begin in probate court in Houston, in a dispute over the validity of Marshall's will, which left all of the oilman's estate to his youngest son. That case pits both Smith and Marshall's disinherited elder son, J. Howard Marshall III, against E. Pierce Marshall.

Smith testified last year that E. Pierce Marshall defrauded her of between $556 million and $820 million she was entitled to as her share of her late husband's estate.

The former model for Playboy, Guess jeans and other magazines and advertisements, was working as a stripper at a topless bar in Houston when she met Marshall. She was 26 and he was 89 when they were married in 1994.

He died in 1995 at age 90, leaving behind a fortune estimated at as much as $1.6 billion.

Smith, who uses her married name of Vickie Lynn Marshall in court documents, claims her husband intended she would receive half of his estate.

``He wanted to make me happy,'' she testified last year. ``My wish was his command.''

But when he died, Marshall's will bequeathed everything to the younger of his two sons.

Bufford ruled that Marshall promised Smith half his fortune if she would marry him. Smith's expected inheritance was based on her ``widow's election,'' or right to elect against her husband's will, ``which made no provision for her,'' Bufford said.

``This extraordinary decision is a miscarriage of justice that is not supported by the facts and will not stand up on appeal,'' E. Pierce Marshall said in a statement issued Wednesday night. ``We are confident that a Texas jury that is permitted to evaluate all of the evidence in the case will allow my father's clearly stated wishes to be carried out.''

In the Texas probate court case, Smith and Howard Marshall III both insist that the elder Marshall promised them a share of his fortune.

Marhsall's wealth consisted mostly of his ownership of 16 percent of the outstanding shares of Koch Industries Inc., an oil company that is the nation's second largest privately held corporation.

The stock was worth an estimated $1.4 billion at the time of his death. During their marriage, its value rose by $449.7 million, the amount of Wednesday's judgment.

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