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Anna Nicole Smith’s Daughter Lost Decade-Long Legal Battle over Multimillion-Dollar Fortune

Busayo Ogunjimi
Nov 06, 2021
05:20 P.M.
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When the inheritance lawsuit involving Anna Nicole Smith's daughter was first brought before the court, only a few would have predicted the twist and turns or how long it would take.

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Anna Nicole Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan in Houston, Texas. She reportedly had a challenging time growing up as her mother was very strict.

When Anna was 15 years old, she was sent to live with her Aunt in Mexia, a town of around 7000 people located in Texas. She attended Mexia High School before eventually dropping out when she was in the 10th grade.

Dannielynn Birkhead and Larry Birkhead attend the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky[left]. Anna Nicole Smith cries tears of joy as the Maid of Honor for Penny and Joseph Genovese as they renew their wedding vows, poolside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on July 21, 2005 in Hollywood, Florida[right]  | Photo: Getty Images

Dannielynn Birkhead and Larry Birkhead attend the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky[left]. Anna Nicole Smith cries tears of joy as the Maid of Honor for Penny and Joseph Genovese as they renew their wedding vows, poolside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on July 21, 2005 in Hollywood, Florida[right] | Photo: Getty Images

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She reportedly felt miserable while attending Mexia High because she was constantly bullied. Anna would, at the time, order a large drink at Krispy Fried Chicken restaurant, looking sad.

Before long, Anna, 17 at the time, got a job at the restaurant and started working there. She left Mexia for Houston when she was 19 years old in 1986.

With no high school degree or work skills, she had to settle for a job at Walmart and Red Lobster. When that was not enough, she began working as a dancer at a strip club in Houston.

Anna Nicole Smith at the Video Software Dealers Association Convention in Las Vegas in 1993 | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith at the Video Software Dealers Association Convention in Las Vegas in 1993 | Photo: Getty Images

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SMITH'S PERSONAL LIFE

While working at Krispy Fried Chicken, Anna met and dated the fry cook at the restaurant Billy Smith, and after a while, they got married.

Also, a high school dropout, Billy Smith was 16 years old at the time, and Anna was a year older. It was from this union she got the surname "Smith."

The couple had a child together named Daniel Smith when Anna was 18 years old. However, their relationship did not last, and Anna left her son with her mom to move to Houston a year later.

Model Anna Nicole Smith signs autographs at Grand Central Station to kick off the new National Enquirer magazine on April 7, 2005 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Model Anna Nicole Smith signs autographs at Grand Central Station to kick off the new National Enquirer magazine on April 7, 2005 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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MEETING HOWARD MARSHALL II

While working as a dancer, Anna started undergoing breast augmentation surgeries to enhance her figure, and it did not take long before she made a name for herself.

Howard Marshall II was a billionaire from his investment in Koch Industries. After his wife died, he started a relationship with Lady Walker, an exotic dancer. They were together for ten years before she also tragically died.

Anna Nicole Smith receiving the Big Makeover Award during the VH1 Big in 2004 | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith receiving the Big Makeover Award during the VH1 Big in 2004 | Photo: Getty Images

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Marshall, 86 years old at the time, reportedly had no will to live when he walked into the strip club Anna was working at in 1991. He asked her to dance for him after she walked over to where he was sitting.

Marshall invited her to lunch the next day and soon after bought her a ranch, expensive jewelry, a Mercedes, and paid for her to have more breast augmentation surgeries.

The billionaire reportedly asked Anna to marry him multiple times, even trying once at a Red Lobster restaurant, but she refused. Anna Nicole supposedly wanted to make something of herself.

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Her dream came true when she was named Playmate Of The Year by Playboy Magazine in 1993 after appearing in their magazines multiple times. She also started modeling after she signed with a Hollywood talent agency.

Marshall, 89 years old, and Anna, 26 years old, finally tied the knot in 1994 after years of the oil tycoon asking for her to marry him. Her son Daniel was the ring bearer at the ceremony.

Cocktail Party introducing Playboy's 1993 Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith | Photo: Getty Images

Cocktail Party introducing Playboy's 1993 Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith | Photo: Getty Images

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MARSHALL'S DEATH

After six months of marriage, Howard Marshall fell ill and landed in the hospital. Around this time, his son Pierce was given power of attorney, and the billionaire's caregiver Betty Morgan was named his legal guardian.

According to the doctor's orders, Anna was allowed only thirty minutes per visit to see him, and his family financially cut her off. The situation left her sad and heartbroken.

In 1995, without adding her to his will, Marshall was declared dead while a devastated Anna was in New York, a year after their marriage.

Anna Nicole Smith during "G-Phoria - The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles, California  | Photo: Getty Images.

Anna Nicole Smith during "G-Phoria - The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images.

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INHERITANCE BATTLE

Together with Anna Smith, Howard Marshall's younger son Howard III took Pierce, Howard's older son, to court, contesting the will. His father had disinherited Howard III before his death.

Pierce promised never to let Anna get anything from the estate because he believed she only married his father for money. The Texas probate court initially ruled in favor of Pierce, denying Anna and Howard III from receiving any share of the billionaire's estate.

Anna Nicole Smith on the set of Kanye West's Video "Workout Plan" at North Hills Gym in North Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith on the set of Kanye West's Video "Workout Plan" at North Hills Gym in North Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

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While the Texas case was going on, Anna subsequently filed for bankruptcy in a Federal court in California. She accused Pierce of tampering with her potential inheritance.

The Federal court ruled in Anna's favor and awarded her a sum of $474 million. This ruling was then taken to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

At the Court of Appeals, it was adjudged that a federal bankruptcy court had no right to hear the case since the lawsuit had been previously decided at the Texas probate court.

American model, actress and television personality Anna Nicole Smith (1967 - 2007), circa 1990 | Photo: Getty Images

American model, actress and television personality Anna Nicole Smith (1967 - 2007), circa 1990 | Photo: Getty Images

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This conflict of court rulings resulted in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and decide if a federal court in California had jurisdiction over a Texas probate matter.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 ruled in favor of Anna, adjudging that she was allowed to continue arguing in court for her share of the inheritance since she was entitled to it. Six months after this ruling, Pierce Marshall sadly died.

Anna Nicole Smith poses at the after party for the Premiere of MGM's "Be Cool" at the Hollywood Palladium on February 14, 2005 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith poses at the after party for the Premiere of MGM's "Be Cool" at the Hollywood Palladium on February 14, 2005 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

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ANNA SMITH'S DEATH

After her husband's death, with the addition of the court battle and the media scrutiny that came with it, Anna's career started struggling. She parted ways with her modeling agency and agent William Morris and was also suffering and getting treatment for drug abuse.

Anna had prescriptions for many ailments ranging from stomach pain, back pain from breast implants to migraines and seizures. The media were also scrutinizing the reason she was gaining weight.

She stepped away from media attention and, with the help of the weight loss brand "TrimSpa," lost around 69 pounds. These changes reportedly rejuvenated her.

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Anna Nicole Smith at the 130th Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2004 in Louisville | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith at the 130th Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2004 in Louisville | Photo: Getty Images

She also started dating photographer Larry Birkhead who she met in Louisville, Kentucky, at a children's camp charity event. Soon after they met, Birkhead moved in with her.

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It was around this time that Anna became pregnant. Things got worse between her and Birkhead, which prompted her to move to the Bahamas with Howard K. Stern, her manager, and publicist.

She gave birth to her daughter Dannielynn on September 7, 2006. Two days after giving birth, Anna's older son Daniel visited her in the hospital as she recovered.

Anna Nicole Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show on February 12, 2004 during Olympus 2004 Fashion Week, in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show on February 12, 2004 during Olympus 2004 Fashion Week, in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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Anna woke up to discover her son, who presumably laid down asleep next to her, had died. His death was ruled to be from a drug overdose. He had taken a drug called "Zoloft" because he was worried about his flight.

After her son's death, Anna met Brigitte Neven and King Eric Gibson, a local couple that took people out fishing in the Bahamas. She was very close to them and found peace going out in their boat.

Anna Nicole Smith and her son Daniel Smith at the Award Show 4 Gamers in 2004 in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith and her son Daniel Smith at the Award Show 4 Gamers in 2004 in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images

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She loved it so much she decided to buy her boat and eventually found one in Florida. She was given a vitamin B12 shot and a shot of human growth hormone in her left side before picking the boat with Howard Stern.

During the flight, her left side started hurting her, and by the time they landed, she was very ill with a fever of 105 degrees. She was urged to visit the hospital but refused.

Anna Nicole Smith and Howard Stern at the James Toney v Samuel Peter boxing match in 2007 in Hollywood, Florida | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith and Howard Stern at the James Toney v Samuel Peter boxing match in 2007 in Hollywood, Florida | Photo: Getty Images

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Anna allegedly did not want the media attention it would generate. She became sicker over the next few days at the hotel, and after Stern left to check the boat they came to buy, Anna died in her room.

Her death was later ruled to be from an accidental drug overdose, presumably the ones she took after she fell ill at the hotel. She reportedly did not know how lethal the combination of drugs in her system was.

Anna Nicole Smith and Howard K. Stern backstage at the 32nd Annual American Music Awards in 2004, Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images

Anna Nicole Smith and Howard K. Stern backstage at the 32nd Annual American Music Awards in 2004, Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images

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DANIELLYN'S LIFE AFTER SMITH'S DEATH

Anna Smith's death started a paternity drama. On her birth certificate, Howard Stern, her manager, was named as Dannielynn's father, while Smith's ex-boyfriend Alexander Denk also said the child belonged to him.

Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, the fourth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, declared he might also be the father. After a DNA test, Birkhead was proclaimed to be the biological father in a Bahamas courtroom.

Dannielynn was only five months old when her mother died, and soon after the paternity declaration, Stern said he would not fight for custody.

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Birkhead and Dannielynn dropped out of the spotlight for a couple of years as he wanted to give her a chance to grow up without being in the media attention. In 2003, "E!" said they would be releasing a new special about Birkhead and Dannielynn, which came as a surprise to many.

During the special, Birkenhead admitted Dannielynn knew her mother was famous, and she would be painting her fingernails and taking her shopping if she was still alive. The father and daughter were seen again in 2019 after Birkhead posted a photo of them at the Kentucky Derby where he and Smith had first met.

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Occasionally giving interviews, Birkhead claimed companies had contacted him to have Dannielynn model for them but that she was not interested in becoming a celebrity like her mother.

In 2012, Dannielynn participated in a special campaign to honor her mother: a Guess Kids Campaign to celebrate her mother's work with the company Guess. It was a way for her to get closer and pay tribute to her mum, as explained by Birkhead.

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INHERITANCE VERDICT

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter dismissed the case by Anna's estate against The Marshall's estate. The decision ended the case, which had been in court for almost 20 years.

The judge declared Birkhead's lawyers failed to provide enough evidence of actual damages for him to be awarded the sanctions they sought. Dannielynn, Anna's daughter, was reportedly set to gain about $50 million if the lawsuit was successful.

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Carter, in his ruling, accused the Marshall estate of destroying and forging documents, trying to manipulate a sitting federal judge as well as willfully disobeying court orders.

Phil Boesch, who represented Anna, argued that the delaying tactics from the Marshall estate denied them the opportunity to win a judgment in California before the Texas court ruled. Still, Carter said too much time had passed for the argument to be successful.

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