Garcia vs. Garcia in battle for Grateful wealth
December 14, 1996
Web posted at: 8:40 a.m. EST
From Correspondent Don Knapp
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- A court battle opened Friday in which
one Garcia fought another over the estate of the late
Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.
Before Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack last year at a
drug rehabilitation center, he was earning more than $2
million a year. His earnings were a sign of the following he
and his band had built up over nearly 30 years, as Grateful
Dead concerts kept packing fans in. Deadheads filled the
concert halls and kept the band's coffers full of cash.
Now, his survivors are battling over his estate.
Garcia married filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia, his third
wife, in 1994. Deborah says he was an artist, not a banker,
which is why he left his business affairs in poor order.
"He really understood everything about concerts, everything
about records, he was extraordinary that way. And that's one
of the reasons he didn't really organize things as well as he
could, because he just had that touch. Lots came in, lots
went out. What the heck, more will come in," she told CNN.
After the star died, his widow stopped divorce settlement
payments to his ex-wife, Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia. The
guitarist, following the terms of their divorce, had paid
Carolyn $400,000 between the time of their 1994 divorce and
his death in August 1995.
Widow Garcia, through her attorney, claimed ex-wife Garcia
manipulated the guitarist into signing a divorce settlement
in which he promised to pay her $250,000 a year for the next
20 years, a total of $5 million. Garcia's attorney Deborah
Koons claimed Jerry Garcia's marriage to Carolyn in 1981 was
only a tax sham.
Carolyn, who maintains that the estate reneged on her divorce
settlement, responded on the stand by reading a love letter
from her then-husband. The letter was written while he was
on tour in the mid-1980s. As she read it aloud on the stand,
she appeared near the verge of tears.
"You tickle me with your sweet talk," she read. "I build up
a vision of you on the bed and watch you form the words. Your
mouth & special secret smiles & the corners of your mouth
sweet to touch & kiss & exciting in a tender way.
"Your incredible eyes that dance & twinkle & flash & flirt &
laugh & stun and also warm & soothe & speak of Deepest love.
UNBELIEVABLE. I sink into you. I worship you. I love you on
every level. EVERY WAY!!"
The letter was addressed to "Sweet Light" and signed "your
devoted ugly jer."
The painful public trial is just one more reason Anabelle
Garcia, one of the guitarist's four daughters, says she would
never marry a rock star. "It's better to play it safe, and
low key, and have a good quality of life, than to amass a
large fortune and a lot of fame," she said.
It's not clear just how much money Garcia's estate is worth,
although some observers have speculated that his holdings in
business, art and music ventures are worth millions. Claims
against it from ex-wives, lovers, and former business
partners total more than $30 million.
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