(Chuck Muth) – This weekend Julien’s Auction House will hold a public auction at Planet Hollywood in downtown Las Vegas to sell off possessions of the deceased reality-TV star Anna Nicole Smith. Fans will flock to Vegas to dole out thousands of dollars for the star’s memorabilia, but it still remains unclear where the profits of this sale will go. Many people are under the impression that proceeds will benefit charity, but upon further investigation, the auction’s motivations appear suspect.
The auction was the brainchild of Larry Birkhead, the father of Smith’s only heir Dannielynn, and Howard K. Stern, the current executor of Smith’s estate. It is likely their motivation for the sale stemmed from a recent legal blow. In March, a federal appeals court ruled Anna Nicole Smith’s estate is entitled to none of her late husband’s oil fortune.
Just weeks following the court’s decision, Birkhead launched a media tour to publicize the upcoming sale, appearing with his young daughter on national news outlets like the TODAY show, MSNBC, and E! News. Birkhead claimed auction earnings would go towards a trust for his daughter and charity. In a letter found in the official auction booklet published in May, Birkhead states a portion of the proceeds will benefit “the Anna Nicole and Daniel Wayne Smith Foundation.” In addition, major news outlets such a Reuters, ABC, and MSNBC reported a portion of the sales will go to this foundation.
Birkhead and Stern publicized the auction under the guise of promoting a charitable cause but evidence suggests this was never their intention. According to state records, the Anna Nicole and Daniel Wayne Smith Foundation dissolved in 2008. Moreover, this organization has not achieved tax exempt status with the IRS.
The foundation was finally re-incorporated just days before the auction’s launch on June 24th. Birkhead and Stern showed a complete disregard for the law with their actions as they failed to take the necessary legal steps to ensure a legitimate charitable sale. The timeline speaks for itself. All their actions concerning this auction were conducted in a questionable fashion.
Birkhead publically announced the auction in May, but the court did not grant permission for sale of Smith’s estate items until June. Furthermore, this alleged charity was advertised on national news before it was even legally re-incorporated. One can question if Birkhead and Stern ever really intended to re-incorporate the Anna Nicole and Daniel Wayne Smith Foundation or if they did so only after pressure was brought to bear.
The mere existence of the Anna Nicole and Daniel Wayne Smith Foundation is suspect and both Stern and Birkhead’s intention for this sale remains in question. Even if the charity proves to be legitimate, both sit on the board of the foundation AND have heavy influence on the estate as executor and guardian of the sole heir.
Birkhead and Stern’s actions denote a larger problem concerning a lack of justice in celebrity circles. Celebrity personalities continue to believe they are above the law. This kind of flagrant legal abuse and deception should not be tolerated.