Monday, August 2, 2021
In June, M. Richard Robinson Jr., the longtime lead of Scholastic Corp., died suddenly while on a walk in Martha's Vineyard. Robinson Jr.'s death was not the only surprise, as he also left behind a surprising succession plan.
Instead of giving control of the publisher to his two sons, his siblings, or his ex-wife, control went to Iole Lucchese, Scholastic's chief strategy officer. Lucchese also inherited all of his personal possessions.
In his 2018 will, Robinson described Ms. Lucchese as "my partner and closest friend." Lucchese has been with the company for 30-years. Ms. Lucchese and Mr. Robinson had been "longtime romantic partners, according to interviews with family members and former employees.
The surprise heir has "set in motion a family succession drama at the century-old-company." The company, which is one of the world's largest publishers of children's books like the Harry Potter novels and Magic School Bus series, now has its future being called into question due to Lucchese's "sudden emergence as Scholastic's heir."
Some family members have began to review their legal options—like reaching an agreement with Ms. Lucchese to transfer some voting shares to family members or to "ensure that get a greater share of the estate."
Richard Robinson's youngest son, Maurice Robinson, stated that his father's decision to give control to Ms. Lucchese was "unexpected and shocking." John Benham Robinson, Richard Robinson's eldest son, described his father's estate plans as "salt in an open wound."
See Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg & Shalini Ramachandran, Succession Drama Grips Scholastic: CEO's Sudden Death, an Office Romance and a Surprise Will , The Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2021.
Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.