Paul Newman’s daughters sue father’s foundation claiming legacy ‘under assault’

Paul Newman’s daughters sue father’s foundation claiming legacy ‘under assault’

Two of Paul Newman’s children are suing the famed Hollywood actor’s foundation, claiming that the leaders of the non-profit have strayed away from the outset goals that their deceased father founded the organisation on.

In the Tuesday filing, daughters Elinor “Nell” Newman and Susan Newman allege that their father’s legacy is “under assault” by the “very organization he founded in an effort to preserve and expand that legacy”, alleging that the board of directors have ignored the Cool Hand Luke actor’s wishes by decreasing the amount of money they receive to be redirected to charities of their choosing.

In 2005, just three years before the Golden Age Hollywood era star would die from lung cancer at his Westport, Connecticut home, Mr Newman created Newman’s Own Foundation. The private organisation controls the food company by the same name – Newman’s Own Inc – which then sends 100 per cent of its after-tax profits to the charity.

As part of the Oscar-winning actor relinquishing control to the board of directors, according to the lawsuit, he asked that $400,000 be delivered to his “Daughter’s Foundations”, which he viewed as an essential “check on Newman’s Own Foundation’s ability”.

“Mr. Newman granted to Newman’s Own Foundation the rights to his name, image and likeness and other publicity and intellectual property rights, but not unconditionally,” the lawsuit filed in the Connecticut state court read. “Instead, Mr. Newman made that grant on the condition that Newman’s Own Foundation allocate $400,000 each year to each of his ‘Daughters’ Foundations,’ for them to donate to charities identified by his daughters pursuant to specific rules that he established.”

The lawsuit goes on to argue that in the foundation has, particularly in recent years, “lost its way and strayed from its mission to preserve and honor Paul Newman’s legacy”.

“The years since Mr. Newman’s death consist of a long and consistent pattern of disregard, by those in control, of Mr. Newman’s specific intentions and direction, coupled with mismanagement, scandal, and questionable practices,” it reads.

A spokesperson for Newman’s Own Foundation labelled the lawsuit lodged by the two sisters as “meritless”, noting that the decisions made by the board of directors can “vary each year”, and is ultimately influenced by the organisation’s mission which “requires us to make the best use of our finite resources”.

“Best practices surrounding philanthropic organizations do not allow for the establishment of perpetual funding allotments for anyone, including Nell and Susan Newman,” said the Newman’s Own Foundation spokesperson in an emailed statement to The Independent.

“A meritless lawsuit based on this faulty wish would only divert money away from those who benefit from Paul Newman’s generosity. While we expect to continue to solicit Newman family recommendations for worthy organizations, our funding decisions are made each year and will continue to reflect the clear aim of Paul Newman and our responsibility to the best practices governing private foundations.”

The daughters contend that leaders at the iconic actor’s foundation have significantly slashed the amount intended to be set aside for their charitable organisations, halving the annual amount from $400,000 to $200,000.

In damages, the plaintiffs argue they are not seeking personal recompensation for the “disregard” exhibited by the board, but rather seeking $1.6m which will be donated to charities of their choosing, in keeping with their father’s wishes.

The daughters are also seeking a judgement that will, going forward, require Newman’s Own Foundation “to comply with Paul Newman’s instructions now and in the future,” the lawsuit said.

“No one should have to feel that the legacy of a departed loved one is being dishonored in the way that Newman’s Own Foundation has disregarded the daughters of Paul Newman, who are the plaintiffs in this case,” attorney Andy Lee said in a statement on his clients’ behalf.

According to the Newman’s Own Foundation website, there are “thousands of charities around the world” who have received funds from both Mr Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation, totalling over $500m worldwide.