Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me, a documentary on the life and death of the late model and actress, has just been released on Netflix and is expected to become the service’s most popular documentary this week. The young woman from Texas was just 39 when she was found dead in a hotel bed in Florida.
Smith had no trouble getting work early in her career, including spreads in Playboy and playing roles in films like The Hudsucker Proxy by the Coen Brothers, but she eventually had to file for bankruptcy in 1996. How much money did she have when she passed away a little over a decade later?
Anna Nicole Smith Net Worth
At the time of her untimely death, American model, actress, and TV personality Anna Nicole Smith was worth $1 million.
When Anna Nicole Smith won Playmate of the Year in 1993, she quickly became a cultural icon. She became even more well-known after appearing in reality shows and modeling for companies like H&M, Lane Bryant, and Guess Jeans.
Anna Nicole Smith’s Billionaire Marriage and Legal Battle
Anna Nicole was married to J. Howard Marshall II, a Texas billionaire, for 14 months before he died in 1995 at the age of 90. Marshall’s 16% ownership share in Koch Industries made him a billionaire at the time of his death. That percentage of the company would be worth almost $16 billion now.
Anna’s lawsuit with her ex-stepson E. Pierce Marshall began shortly after Marshall’s death. All of J. Howard’s property was left to E. Pierce in his bequest. Anna and another son, J. Howard II was specifically left out of the will.
Anna asserted that J. Howard had offered her half of his estate in a televised conversation. Anna and J. Howard III both fought to have the family trust and will overturn it. A Texas state court denied their claims after they fought for six months.
Anna filed for bankruptcy in the state of California in 1996. She kept challenging the Texas court’s decision, and in 2000, a bankruptcy court in California sided with Anna and awarded her $475 million.
Pierce filed an appeal in 2001, and the judge initially agreed with him. The district court ruled in Anna’s favor in March 2002, granting her half of the couple’s communal property, which would have included any asset appreciation that occurred during their marriage. The $475 million judgment was overturned, and Anna was awarded $88 million instead.
The $88 million ruling against Pierce was overturned after an appeal to the Ninth Court of Appeals in Texas, which concluded that Pierce was not an heir to Marshall.
Believe it or not, Anna took her case to the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court sided with Smith on May 1, 2006, thus reversing the Ninth Circuit’s verdict and allowing her to re-argue the case before that court.
Since the bankruptcy court that initially ruled in Anna’s favor did not have jurisdiction in Texas to make such an award in a case where the probate had already been settled, in March 2010, that earlier court ruled for the last time that Anna’s bankruptcy court claim was false and therefore she was not entitled to any of J. Howard Marshall’s estate.
On June 20, 2006, at the age of 67, E. Pierce Marshall passed away from septic shock. Elaine Marshall, his wife, and their two children received his whole wealth.
On February 8, 2007, at the age of 39, Anna passed away. Daniel, her son, inherited everything in her bequest. Daniel, who was only 20, tragically passed away six months previously from a heroin overdose.
When Smith passed away, she left behind $1.8 million in real estate secured by a $1.1 million mortgage. Her daughter Danielynn, who was born three days before her older brother Daniel’s death in 2006, was her only living relative.
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Howard K. Stern, Anna’s former attorney, took up Danielynn’s cause and re-appealed to the US Supreme Court. He had previously claimed paternity of the girl, but DNA testing disproved his claim. Danielynn’s father, Larry Birkhead, has come forward. After 15 years of litigation, the Marshall family was vindicated and all of Anna’s claims were dismissed.
If Anna had won, she would now be worth almost $8 billion and possess 8% of Koch Industries. Instead, Elaine Marshall, E. Pierce Marshall’s widow, is now one of the richest women in the world, with a net worth of $17 billion.
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