The locks at the Bahamas mansion where Anna Nicole Smith had been living were changed for the second time in 24 hours as a lawyer for the late reality TV star said he had retaken possession of the estate.
Outside the gated Nassau mansion known as “Horizons”, lawyer Wayne Munroe also told reporters that he had filed a robbery complaint with police over computer equipment and other personal effects allegedly taken from the home. He did not disclose further details.
The 39-year-old former Playboy playmate, who died at a Florida hotel on Thursday, had claimed that US developer and former boyfriend Ben Thompson bought her the house as a gift.
The impromptu press conference outside the mansion’s gates came several hours after Godfrey Pinder, a lawyer for Thompson, announced he had taken control of the residence in the exclusive New Providence neighbourhood by changing the locks on Friday on behalf of his client.
Thompson has said the house was on loan to Smith, with whom he had a brief relationship.
However, Munroe said the property belongs to Howard Stern – Smith’s companion, who is listed on a birth certificate as the father of Smith’s five-month-old daughter, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern.
He said he did not know the whereabouts of Dannielynn, who is at the centre of a broadening legal battle, but emphasised that Stern was due custody of the baby.
“As the other registered parent, Howard Stern has the right to speak to the custody of Dannielynn. That has to be respected unless and until a court – not a person – says otherwise,” Munroe said, standing next to Pinder.
Witnesses reported seeing Stern inside the mansion with TV crews shortly before the lawyers spoke to reporters and Munroe confirmed that he was in Nassau. Several SUVS with black-tinted windows left the gated mansion’s grounds earlier.
Earlier in the day, Pinder said Bahamian immigration minister Shane Gibson’s mother was permitted into the waterfront home late on Friday to remove some of Smith’s personal effects, including clothes and jewellery. The minister was a friend of Smith.
And a pick-up carried a crib and an infant’s car seat from the mansion to Gibson’s house in the middle-class Marathon area. Later, a baby could be heard crying inside the house. Gibson did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.
The exact whereabouts of Dannielynn, who was not with Smith on Thursday when she died in Florida, were unclear.
Experts say the decision of who receives custody could determine the child’s inheritance. Smith was in a long legal battle over the fortune of her late husband, Texas oil tycoon J Howard Marshall.
Smith’s mother arrived on Friday in Nassau, where the late star’s son died last year under mysterious circumstances, to check on the welfare of her granddaughter, according to Reginald Ferguson, assistant commissioner for the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
Arthur, who was reportedly staying in a resort in Nassau’s famed Cable Beach, could not be reached for comment. She told ABC’s Good Morning America that she believed her daughter died from a drug overdose.
A birth certificate for Dannielynn lists Stern as the girl’s father, but two other men have challenged for paternity. A former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, claims he is the father and on Friday, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, announced that he had a decade-long affair with Smith and might be Dannielynn’s father.
Smith gave birth to Dannielynn on September 7. Three days later, her 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, died while visiting her in the hospital. A medical examiner hired by the family concluded he died from an accidental combination of methadone and antidepressants, but results of an official autopsy have not been released.