Taylor Stein, the mother of Estée Lauder CEO William Lauder's love child, is going to court to get him to pay a $9.5 million settlement he agreed to in exchange for her silence.
On February 17, Stein's lawyer, Ed Hayes, filed a petition with a New York court which oversees trust funds, seeking to force out William's brother, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Gary Lauder, as its trustee. A court date has been set for March 20.
Update: After the publication of this post, a lawyer representing William Lauder contacted us. We made a few updates to the post, where appropriate, to note their concerns.
The complaint has emails (see below) sent by William, going by the handle "Dancing Bear," to Stein's "Debutramp" account. Debutramp is the name of an autobiographical novel that Stein, daughter of a well-known New York nightclub owner Howard Stein, is writing. Hayes's petition, which includes the original settlement agreement which Stein and Lauder signed in 2007, is posted here.
William, part of the mostly despicable Lauder clan,
resigned agreed to step down within two years from his post as CEO of the family-owned cosmetics empire in favor of a successor shortly after the New York Post revealed the existence of Lauder's daughter in 2007. (His successor, Fabrizio Freda, is currently president and COO, and is expected to take over Lauder's job this year.) The Post noted Stein's history of dating rich olds and reported negotiations over the settlement agreement, which was completed in November of that year. Stein agreed to move to California and not disclose the identity of Djuna's father to anyone, even Djuna herself.
The only hitch: William, who has two daughters with his wife, Karen, apparently decided he had to meet his new daughter. Last year, he flew to Los Angeles to visit Stein and Djuna. Hayes, Stein's lawyer, says Karen Lauder learned of the visit and ordered William not to contact his daughter or her mother again — yet, according to emails filed with the court petition, he continued to correspond with her.
William then asked Stein to fly with Djuna to New York, according to Hayes. They met in the Pierre Hotel, Hayes said, where William's father, Leonard Lauder, saw Stein and Djuna. (Lauder's lawyer says that Leonard and Stein did not meet in the Pierre, and that William did not arrange the meeting. Hayes agrees on the latter point. In an interview, he described the meeting as a "coincidence.") Evelyn Lauder, William's mother, then learned of her granddaughter's
existence and met presence in town and asked to meet her — a demand William found hard to refuse because, according to Hayes, she is ill from cancer. (Lauder is a noted breast-cancer survivor who has raised considerable money for cancer research. William's emails to Stein mention his mother's illness but do not specify the ailment. His lawyer say Evelyn Lauder does not have cancer.)
Karen then reportedly demanded Stein and Djuna stay out of New York. According to Stein's petition, Karen threatened to divorce William.
Hayes believes that Karen is less concerned about William seeing Djuna than her mother-in-law getting to know the child. Here's why: If Evelyn and Leonard Lauder write Djuna into their will, Karen's daughters will get a smaller cut of the family's estimated $3 billion fortune.
What makes William's actions seem especially cold: At the same time that he was sending tender-hearted emails to Stein, he was having his brother Gary move to cut off payments from her trust.
Here are William and Stein's emails:
In her email, Lauder's lawyer writes:
William Lauder is in complete compliance with his obligation to his youngest daughter. No payments due to the child by William Lauder have been "cut off;" to the contrary, he has made every payment he is obligated to pay. The dispute between Ms. Stein and William Lauder arises from Ms. Stein's failure to comply with her obligations under an agreement.
In the court petition Hayes filed for Stein, he writes:
William is now claiming that the encounters between his parents and Djuna are in breach of the Settlement Agreement, a ridiculous claim formulated to avoid his future payment obligations and to appease his wife, Karen, who threatens an immensely expensive divorce if William continues interacting with Ms. Stein and Djuna.