Bigger share claimed by half-sister with fancy tastes in Australia

February 14, 2015 1:35 pm

Michael Wright, the son of one of ’s legendary mining
pioneers, Peter Wright, had a frugal lifestyle. He drove a Ford Falcon,
considered yachts a “waste of money”, and was happiest pruning roses on
his vineyard estate, wearing khaki shorts and a floppy hat.
Wright – whose father, Peter, was the business partner of Gina
Rinehart’s father, Lang Hancock – died in 2012, he left a fortune valued
at A$750 million ($782.5 million) to his three children, Leonie,
Alexandra and Myles.

Olivia Mead. Photo / Corp

Until recently, few people outside the
family knew Michael had fathered a fourth child, Olivia – and she has
not inherited his simple tastes.
The product of a fling he had
with Elizabeth Mead, Olivia went to court this month seeking a larger
slice of Michael’s estate. In his will, she was left “only” A$3 million,
to inherit when she turned 30.
The 19-year-old student handed
the Supreme Court of Western Australia a shopping list of things she
believes she needs for her “proper maintenance, support, education and
advancement” until she is 96.

The list – also comprising the cost of bringing up the four
children she plans to have, each two years apart – includes a A$2.5
million house in Perth, five pairs of A$5000 shoes a year, a
diamond-studded bass guitar and thousands of dollars to care for her
pets: a dog, a ferret, a rabbit and an axolotl, or Mexican walking fish.
there’s the A$40,000 a year which Mead is seeking for holidays,
A$10,000 a year for handbags and other accessories, A$400 a week for
restaurant bills, A$300 a week for clothes and A$150 a week for fine
wine, as well as two cars: an Audi A4 and a Toyota Tarago, for ferrying
around the prospective kids.
The total price tag is A$12 million,
which was whittled down from an initial A$20 million, after Mead agreed
she could live without the guitar and a A$1.6 million crystal-encrusted
Kuhn-Boesendorfer grand piano.
If her case – in which she is
suing her two half-sisters, Leonie Baldock and Alexandra Burt, and her
father’s executor, David Lemon – is successful, it will be the biggest
court-ordered pay-out from a family estate in Australian history.
Wright and Hancock made their riches from the vast iron ore deposits
they discovered in the 1960s in WA’s remote Kimberley region. Under a
deal with the Rio Tinto subsidiary Hamersley Iron, they reaped – and now
their descendants reap – tens of millions of dollars a year in
Baldock and Burt run the family business, including
the highly profitable Voyager Estate winery founded by Michael Wright in
Margaret River. Myles Wright, a musician, receives an income of
A$650,000 a year and will inherit A$15 million in 2017, the court heard.
lives with her mother in a modest Perth suburb, and drives a 1993
Toyota Corolla. Her dreadlocked boyfriend, Liam, was present in court.
lawyer, Lindsay Ellison, SC, told the court her claim was “not
excessive”, and his client was not a “spoilt child”. Although Michael –
who saw Olivia Mead infrequently – contributed child support and other
expenses, she was not indulged.
Since Peter Wright and Hancock
died, in 1985 and 1992 respectively, the two families have been engaged
in almost continual legal warfare with each other, and among themselves.
and his sister, Angela Bennett, successfully sued Rinehart for a 25 per
cent stake in a massive iron tenement. Michael – who married four times
– and Bennett were sued by the children of their brother, Julian,
settling for A$50 million.
And Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, is embroiled in legal action brought by three of her four children.

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