The tragic death yesterday of movie mogul Steve Bing is sure to reignite another convoluted and drama-soaked chapter for the rights to his vast fortune.
Mr Bing, who was reportedly found dead after an apparent suicide in his luxury apartment building in LA’s Century City neighbourhood, became a Hollywood power after inheriting $US600 million from his grandfather when he was just 18.
But in the last few years he has been tracked down by descendants of his own who have laid claim to the inheritance, including British actor Liz Hurley’s son, Damian, 18, who was conceived when the two had a brief fling.
The claims don’t end there, with another child of Bing’s, Kira Kerkorian Bing, 20, also being roped into the drama.
The story is far more longwinded and confusing than this. So let’s go back to the start.
Kira’s mother, former tennis pro Lisa Bonder, was married to US media mogul Kirk Kerkorian, who was 48 years her senior, for just 28 days in 1999.
When she fell pregnant, she insisted Mr Kerkorian was the father, and after they divorced, he paid a whopping $US100,000 a month in child support.
As part of the former couple’s divorce settlement, Mr Kerkorian was also forced to establish a $US7 million trust for his daughter.
But Mr Kerkorian suspected Kira wasn’t actually his child, and in the noughties his private detective famously swiped a piece of dental floss used by Mr Bing, a former boyfriend of Ms Bonder.
Following DNA testing, that tiny strand proved that Mr Bing was in fact Kira’s father, and despite Mr Kerkorian’s estimated $US4.2 billion fortune, she was left with just $US8.5 million when he died in 2015 at the age of 98.
Even that sum was hard won, with Ms Kerkorian Bing increasing her original $US7 million share of the immense wealth by $US1.5 million after contesting the billionaire’s will.
But the saga doesn’t stop there.
Even in the face of that clear evidence, Ms Kerkorian Bing has also been rejected by her own biological father and his family.
Mr Bing’s own fortune comes largely from his real estate developer grandfather, Leo S Bing, who struck it rich in New York in the 1920s.
Steve’s father, Dr Peter Bing, was last year fighting to stop his illegitimate grandchildren – Damian and Kira – from getting their hands on the family trust.
Dr Bing had said Damian and Kira had no right to the family trust because the two were born out of wedlock, but a court denied this attempt in July.
Los Angeles judge, Daniel Juarez, shot down Peter’s assertion that the term ‘grandchild’ was ambiguous and needed to be clarified.
“There is no ambiguity in the Trusts’ use of the term ‘grandchild’,” Judge Juarez wrote in his judgment according to The Daily Mail.
“The Trusts’ use of the word ‘grandchild’ offers no ambiguity otherwise unless one accepts Trustee’s foisted definition that restricts, among others, grandchildren born out of wedlock to one of Settlor’s children unless they lived with one of Settlor’s children while a minor or as a regular member of the household.
‘These restrictive, limiting, further definitions unreasonably distort the term’s clear and plain use in the Trusts.”
Despite her scandalous family life, Kira Kerkorian Bing, a keen equestrian, has largely managed to stay out of the spotlight over the years and little is known about her private life.