The Stan Lee drama, stirred up by an in-depth report on the feuding factions around him in The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week (see “More on the Feuding Factions Around Stan Lee”), took a new turn on Friday when Lee filed suit against Jerardo Olivarez in California Superior Court alleging conversion, fraud, financial abuse of an elder, and misappropriation of name and likeness.
The suit charges that Olivarez, a former associate of Lee’s daughter J.C., took actions after the death of Lee’s wife including causing $4.6 million to be transferred out of Lee’s Merrill Lynch account without authorization, convincing Lee to give him power of attorney, firing Lee’s past advisers; and convincing Lee to loan him money, transfer money to Hands of Respect, a for-profit faux charity he ran, and buy him an $850,000 condo. The suit further alleges that Olivarez caused Lee’s will and estate planning documents to be changed in his favor.
The suit also charges the Olivarez convinced Lee to agree to the sale of POW! Entertainment to a Hong Kong company for an artificially low price last year (see “Geek M&A Round-Up”).
And bringing it all home, the suit charges that Olivarez caused Stan’s blood to be taken in a scheme to sell comics marked with “Stan Lee’s Solvent DNA Ink” (see “Stan Lee Good News and Bad News”). The suit seeks an accounting, restitution, and damages.
Even before the suit, two other entities had expressed concern about Lee in public ways. POW! Entertainment, where Lee remains Chief Creative Officer, published “An Open Letter to the Fans” in which it said that “upon seeing the many public videos and testimonials of Stan at Silicon Valley Comic Con and multiple other disturbing news reports, we feel we must add our voice to the legion of fans and creatives who are speaking out.” One of the public videos may have been the one we linked to in this article, in which it appears that Lee is being instructed on how to spell his name.
The New York Times even paid a visit to Lee to check on claims of current elder abuse, and quoted him as saying, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world, Nobody has more freedom.” More to the point, the report also quoted Lee on his financial matters. “I’ve been very careless with money. I had a partner or two who, since I’m not a money counter — I let them take care of keeping track of the money we made. Lately, I have found out that a lot of the money we made is no longer available for me. I don’t know where it is, but a guy, and maybe one or two others, have found a way to take it. So, I feel bad about it, and of course we have a lawyer trying to get it back again. But money isn’t worth losing your cool about, you know?”
Lee’s art collection appeared to be eroding, according to the Times reporter, who noted that “empty hooks surrounded by dusty outlines sit among prints and original works by noted artists – Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Salvador Dali, and Roy Lichtenstein.” Lee told the reporter that his daughter J.C. had taken “a lot of them,” and that “a lot of them have gone elsewhere.”
All in all, a mixed week for the living symbol of Marvel Comics. Hoping for the best.