Monday, November 11, 2013
Celebrated author Gore Vidal died in July 2012 at the age of 86. He bequeathed his entire estate to Harvard University even though he never attended.
Vidal’s half-sister, Nina Straight, is challenging the will, claiming Vidal was not mentally competent when he changed the will’s terms shortly before his death.
In his original will, Vidal left his estimated $37 million estate to his partner, Howard Austen. After Austen died in 2003, Vidal amended the will in 2011, awarding his entire estate to Harvard.
Whether the Harvard bequest was the effect of dementia or Vidal’s true wish remains to be seen. The bequest may perplex his family and close friends, but one friend describes this as vintage Vidal saying, “He wanted to go out like Ebenezer Scrooge, with a huge finger to everyone around him.”
See Tim Teeman, For Gore Vidal, a Final Plot Twist, The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2013.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) and Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.