Sumner Redstone's Ex-Companion Was Set to Inherit $50 Million and His House

Boston Beginnings
Christopher Patey

Redstone was born in a Boston tenement to a father who changed the family name from Rothstein to Redstone and built a regional movie-theater chain. After a short career as an attorney (he graduated from Harvard and Harvard Law), Redstone joined his father's company, National Amusements, in 1954. He became CEO in 1967 and steadily grew the company with profitable investments in studios.

A new court filing by attorneys for Sumner Redstone in his battle with his former companion, Manuela Herzer, spells out exactly what Herzer would have expected to gain financially had the 92-year-old media mogul not dismissed her from his life in October and subsequently changed his will.

The disclosure came in the latest procedural skirmish as Herzer, 52, fights to prove her claim that Redstone was not competent to drop her as his health care proxy last November. In a court filing obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Redstone’s lawyers say that under an inheritance plan apparently executed last September, “Ms. Herzer would have $50 million and Mr. Redstone’s Beverly Park home, worth roughly $20 million.”

After Redstone amended the plan in October, the filing continues, “he instead directed that those assets pass to his charitable foundation” upon his death.

Last week, Redstone’s 61-year-old daughter, Shari, submitted a court filing stating that her father had given Herzer $70 million in cash and assets just since 2009. The inheritance would have come on top of those previous gifts.

Redstone’s lawyers are seeking to establish that Herzer’s interests do not, as she has repeatedly insisted, arise from her concern for the ailing chairman emeritus of Viacom — home of Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and MTV — and CBS, but rather from her desire for a financial windfall.

Herzer's attorney Pierce O'Donnell late Tuesday reiterated to THR in a statement that "this case has never been about money" and said Herzer is only trying "to protect her beloved friend from the manipulation and abuse by his caregivers and Shari Redstone."

He added: "With Manuela out of the way and by diverting her bequest to a charity, National Amusements Trust Inc. — and Shari who owns 20 percent — will save hundreds of millions of dollars in gift taxes that it is obligated to pay on behalf of Sumner."

Last week, Redstone resigned from the chairmanship of CBS and was replaced by Leslie Moonves. The board of his other company, Viacom, voted to replace him with CEO Philippe Dauman. Shari Redstone, a Viacom board member, cast the lone vote against that appointment.

Tuesday's filing deals with the larger point of what the judge is allowed to consider in making his decision about whether to allow Herzer's petition to move forward. Herzer is seeking to preclude as "gamesmanship" a declaration from Shari Redstone as well as her father's primary physician. There's also the issue of how these new declarations impact scheduling and a potential delay in the case.

Redstone's attorney asks, "How is it gamesmanship to advise the Court that Mr. Redstone's family members are present in his life and care deeply for him, when the central question before the Court is whether Mr. Redstone needs this Court's intervention when it comes to his health care?"

The court papers also cite some correspondence between the attorneys that indicates Shari Redstone will be testifying in a deposition. It's also said that she will be questioned for more than an hour or two, longer than the physician and nurse who will also be submitting to examination, by Herzer's attorneys.