The estranged widow of Palm Beach society shutterbug Lucien Capehart and an employee of his company who claims he gave her his company have lawyered up for what could become a nasty battle for his estate.
Capehart, who photographed most black tie functions, society weddings and family gatherings on the island, died unexpectedly from a lung disease Feb. 27 at 65.
But while he left a will to map out the distribution of his assets, the administration of his estate has been reminiscent of the probate battles of old Palm Beach families.
It even includes strange mistakes on Capehart’s death certificate!
While Capehart wasn’t as rich as those he immortalized on film, he owned a commercial building downtown West Palm Beach and 40 years of photos of some of America’s best known clans.
By some estimates, the assets could be worth a total $1.3 million!
Those vying for their cut include Ron Capehart, Lucien’s brother and the executor of his estate; Dina Capehart, Lucien’s estranged wife and mother of their 16-year-old daughter; and Carrie Bradburn, the long-time manager of Capehart’s business.
Ron is out of the country and couldn’t be reached, and neither Dina Capehart nor Bradburn agreed to be interviewed. Each lawyer was contacted but have yet to return calls.
Public records, meanwhile, clearly show tension between the parties.
For one thing, Judge James Martz took the rare step of ordering as many as five corrections on Capehart’s death certificate that could’ve affected the estate’s administration.
Those included the wrong entry of “divorced” in the deceased’s marital status box; Dina’s name was not included as surviving spouse; and Lucien Capehart’s home address was listed as his business address. The paperwork doesn’t address how the mistakes were made.
And then in June, Dina slapped a lien on the commercial property that Capehart’s estate was about to sell to an unidentified buyer for less than half what it’s currently listed for.
Records show Capehart owned 618 S. Olive, a building with several offices and storefronts located in the back of the fancy Trump Plaza condo complex in West Palm Beach.
A source familiar with the negotiations told me Capehart’s estate was about to sign a contract on the building for $400,000 while it is listed with the real estate company of Touchstone Webb for $850,000!
When Dina heard about the pending deal, she filed the lien to prevent the sale.
And then, there’s the thorny matter of the thousands of photos that Capehart took over his 40-plus years.
Bradburn and Dina Capehart are fighting over ownership. While Bradburn claims it belongs to the business she inherited, Dina claims the archives belong to his family.
I’m told independent appraisals show the old photos still fetch $90,000-a-year in residual income and could be worth $500,000!