With an oil fortune on the line, former stripper Anna Nicole Smith encountered a sympathetic audience at the US Supreme Court today.
Several justices said they were concerned that the one-time Playboy Playmate model was kept from pursuing a piece of her late husband’s fortune.
“It’s quite a story,” said Justice Stephen Breyer.
Smith married oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was a 26-year-old topless dancer in Texas. Marshall died the following year. His fortune has been estimated at as much as €838m.
One of his two sons claims he is the only heir. Breyer said there was evidence that the son hired private detectives to keep Smith away from her elderly husband’s bedside.
Smith’s claim is simple, said Justice David Souter: “Just give me the money I would have had.”
Justices repeatedly referred to the amount of money at stake, and criticised arguments that only a Texas court had jurisdiction to settle the nasty family feud.
“That’s just not the way our system works,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the only woman justice.