Zsa Zsa Gabor has always been associated with glamour in Hollywood — queen of film and television over the course of a five-decade career, married nine times, and even able to parlay a famous slap of a police officer into a career revival. In fact, the Huffington Post recently called her “the first and probably biggest Hollywood celeb to become famous for being famous.” Aptly put.
But when does pursuing fame cross the line for a 94-year old? That point may have come this week, when her husband of 25 years told CNN that he had started the process of donor matching and blood work so he could turn Zsa Zsa into Ma Ma.
That’s right, the esteemed Prince Frederic von Anhalt is planning to arrange for an egg donor, surrogate mother, and artificial insemination to allow Zsa Zsa to once again enjoy the wonder of motherhood.
Why in the world would he do this? He said that he wants someone to be able to carry on the Gabor name. Zsa Zsa’s only child is daughter Francesca Hilton (daughter of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, Zsa Zsa’s second husband). Hilton is, not surprisingly, shocked by the whole thing.
And by this point, it would take a great deal to shock her, based on what Prince von Anhalt has been doing with Zsa Zsa. Despite the fact that Zsa Zsa has been hospitalized dozens of times in the last year or so, including a leg amputation, coma, hip replacement, a stroke, and much more, the prince provided photographs of her in her hospital bed to the media. Then he arranged for more pictures of her, sipping champagne for his recent birthday. Von Anhalt topped that off by spending almost $70,000 for a billboard on Sunset Boulevard to commemorate their 25-year anniversary. He then announced a grand party for that anniversary, and invited many of the Hollywood elite. A few celebrities did appear for the party last night, along with invited members of the media. The festivities lasted well into the night, and Zsa Zsa posed for pictures from her bed.
Francesca Hilton has been upset with all of it. She says von Anhalt is a publicity-hound, using Zsa Zsa for fame and money, and at the same time cutting her out of Zsa Zsa’s life — refusing even to share basic medical information with Hilton. The two were on opposite sides of a lawsuit several years ago over Zsa Zsa’s home, which von Anhalt recently listed for sale, claiming a need for money. (You can read more about the disputes between Hilton and von Anhalt over Zsa Zsa in this Trial & Heirs article.)
He, in turn, says that Hilton only cares about money, for which he cares nothing at all, and he says he is doing everything for his wife, to make her happy. But, keep in mind that she is so confused at times that she doesn't know if she's home or in the hospital.
For someone who says he doesn't concern himself with money, he sure spends a great deal of it. Besides the expensive billboard, von Anhalt says the baby-making procedure will cost about $100,000. He also says that money is so tight for the couple that he is going to auction off Zsa Zsa's clothing, fur coats, and famous memorabilia -- including the dress she wore when she slapped the cop.
One has to wonder if this latest idea is the ultimate slap at Hilton. Or, perhaps, it's a sick way to seek an increased inheritance. Another child by Zsa Zsa would reduce what Hilton would receive. Reportedly, both Hilton and von Anhalt were able to convince Zsa Zsa to sign new wills without telling the other, and it is clear that the prince is not afraid to go to the extreme, as evidenced by the billboard.
While the recent dispute between Zsa Zsa's husband and daughter has not yet turned into a lawsuit, it sure seems like one will happen soon. Von Anhalt reportedly holds power of attorney, and therefore has power to manage Zsa Zsa's medical and financial decisions. Hilton can challenge that authority by seeking the appointment of a guardian or conservator in court.
And certainly, a will contest over which will is valid -- and whether Zsa Zsa was mentally incompetent and/or subject to undue influence when the will or wills in question were signed -- would not surprise anyone at this point.
Hilton believes that her mother is not competent and von Anhalt is taking advantage of her condition. She feels her mother would be shocked if she knew what von Anhalt had done. Von Anhalt disputes that and says Zsa Zsa has been much more responsive since recently returning from the hospital, and she is enjoying everything he is doing.
Is this publicity about helping her? Are the recent events -- including sipping champagne, hosting a Hollywood party, spending money on a billboard when there are unpaid medical bills, and embarking on motherhood -- really in the ailing Zsa Zsa's best interests? Or might they be harming her, financially or even medically?
It's up to Hilton to put those questions to the test in court, if she feels that these decisions are harmful to her mother in one way or the other. Certainly, guardianship and conservatorship court proceedings have been started over far less.
While no one should ever enter into court proceedings like these lightly, when someone is convinced that another family member with power of attorney is abusing their authority to the detriment of the vulnerable adult, including financial exploitation, then seeking help in court is often the only option. The first step is to meet with an experienced probate litigation or elder law attorney to see whether court action is needed to protect an elderly loved one from unsafe decisions.
By Danielle and Andy Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys, and hosts of the national television special, Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune! The charismatic duo has appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, Forbes, ABC’s Live Well Network, and FOX and NBC affiliates. They’ve lent their expertise and analysis to hundreds of media sources, including The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Kiplinger, and The Washington Post, among many others. For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, click her to subscribe to The Trial & Heirs Update.