Liberace's Sister Claims Trust Left Her BrokeROBERT MACY , Associated Press
Aug. 11, 1988 6:09 PM ET
LAS VEGAS, NEV. LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) _ The sister of the late Liberace testified that she was penniless while an attorney countered she had been given more than $100,000 so far from a trust left by her entertainer brother.
Angie Liberace's testimony came in an increasingly bitter court battle between a Beverly Hills, Calif., attorney who is executor of Liberace's estate and five people challenging a will signed by Liberace 13 days before his death last year.
In her second day of testimony on Thursday, Ms. Liberace, 74, criticized the trust set up to take care of her. She said her brother had intended for her to have everything she needed without having to be accountable to anyone.
''If I didn't have this trust, I wouldn't have to answer to you people for every piece of food I swallow,'' she testified. ''Liberace didn't intend for me to have a trust.''
The suit in state District Court seeks to oust attorney Joel Strote as executor of the estate, valued at $18 million, and as head of the Liberace Foundation for the Performing Arts, which provides scholarships to nearly 30 colleges and universities.
Strote was named executor in a will Liberace signed Jan. 22, 1987. Liberace died Feb. 4, 1987, of complications of AIDS.
Plaintiffs contend Liberace was too ill to understand more than 100 pages of documents when he signed the new will and trust.
Defense witnesses, including the entertainer's sister-in-law, Dora Liberace, have said he was alert and competent when he signed the documents.
Angie Liberace, the entertainer's only living sibling and one of five plaintiffs in the case, testified Wednesday that she was no longer able to live in the manner which her brother had wanted for her.
Attorneys representing Strote disagreed, saying the estate had paid her more than $100,000 the past year.
Liberace's will left his sister $590,000 plus a car and the use of a Las Vegas condominium. A prior will had designated $450,000 for her.
Strote testified earlier this year that he became alarmed at the rate Ms. Liberace was spending money, and began watching expenditures more closely. Defense attorney John O'Reilly Wednesday cited trust fund payments for jewelry, travel and other expenses.
''You have made it out that I'm the spendthrift of Nevada when I'm on charity,'' Mrs. Liberace replied. ''I don't have a nickel to my name.''
She said she was required to attend various functions for her brother and ''most people pick up the tab, knowing I'm penniless.''
She expressed bitterness with Strote for closing the Tivoli Gardens, a plush restaurant on the city's east side that was a pet project of the late entertainer. O'Reilly said the restaurant had lost more than $5 million from 1982 to 1986.
Also Wednesday, George Llinares, former Liberace valet and houseman, recounted his years of service with Liberace. Llinares said housekeeper Dorothy McMahon had a ''very close'' relationship with Cary James, Liberace's companion the last six years of his life.
Along with Angie Liberace, James and Ms. McMahon, housekeeper Gladys Luckie and Seymour Heller, Liberace's long-time manager, are plaintiffs in the suit.