HAN­DELS­MANS

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY -

no mat­ter what moral, eth­i­cal, or le­gal bar­ri­ers would oth­er­wise be in the way,” agreed at­tor­ney Jeff Fisher, who is rep­re­sent­ing the cou­ple’s three adult chil­dren, who al­ready con­trol much of their par­ents’ em­pire.

Now in their 60s and liv­ing in up­state New York, the chil­dren are fight­ing to con­vince Suskauer to divide their par­ents’ vast hold­ings so they are no longer in busi­ness with their fa­ther, and their mother isn’t pun­ished.

For his part,

Burt has said he con­sid­ers his chil­dren his “en­e­mies” and proved it by su­ing them over their con­trol of some of the real es­tate.

At­tor­ney Richard Se­gal, who rep­re­sents Burt, dis­puted the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the man who is known as the “Mayor of Worth Av­enue,” say­ing he has been the vic­tim of “char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion.”

Se­gal painted the chil­dren as the driv­ing force be­hind the vi- cious at­tacks on Burt.

“The sad truth is Ms. Han­dels­man’s wants and de­sires took a back­seat at trial to the chil­dren’s at­tempt to de­throne their fa­ther,” Se­gal wrote in his 97-page mo­tion.

He urged Suskauer to look dis­pas­sion­ately at the ev­i­dence, divide the prop­erty eq­ui­tably and ig­nore the chil­dren’s ef­forts to vil­ify Burt.

“Here is to hope that a well-bal­anced fi­nal judg­ment might bring this fam­ily back to re­al­ity and, hope­fully, one day in the fu­ture they all can re­unite and rec­on­cile,” he wrote.

Suskauer opened the trial in Fe­bru­ary by grant­ing 89-year-old Lu­cille’s re­quest for a di­vorce from her 91-year-old hus­band after 67 years of mar­riage. Lu­cille, known as Lovey, claimed Burt fell in love with the cou­ple’s trusted lawyer, Fort Laud­erdale at­tor­ney Jane Rankin. Grant­ing the di­vorce was the easy part.

The dif­fi­cult part is di­vid­ing up the prop­erty. The dol­lar fig­ures are eye-pop­ping.

The cou­ple has al­ready agreed on how to split up 55 pieces of prop­erty val­ued at roughly $175 mil­lion, Weiss­man said. How­ever, they are still war­ring over some of the gems of their em­pire, in­clud­ing most of their prop­erty on Worth Av­enue and in Del­ray Beach and Lan­tana. While only 26 prop­er­ties re­main in dis­pute, they are among the most ex­pen­sive ones.

In ad­di­tion, they are ar­gu­ing over fam­ily keep­sakes, in­clud­ing a shav­ing mug col­lec­tion val­ued at more than $1 mil­lion.

For months, Suskauer has pleaded with the cou­ple and their chil­dren to reach a res­o­lu­tion.

At one point, he said: “It wouldn’t shock me if every­one’s un­happy with my rul­ing down the road. There are no win­ners. No one would walk away happy.” Still, no ac­cord could be reached.

Suskauer has not in­di­cated when he would rule. It is likely to be months.

Whether his word will be the last is a loom­ing ques­tion.

Dur­ing the trial, Burt told Lu­cille she wouldn’t live to see the end of the le­gal wran­gling, Weiss­man wrote.

“When the court was in re­cess my hus­band, Bur­ton Han­dels­man, ap­proached me and and stated, ‘This process will take at least 10 more years,’” Weiss­man wrote, quot­ing Lu­cille.

The dif­fi­cult part

is di­vid­ing up the prop­erty. The dol­lar fig­ures are

eye-pop­ping.

B. Han­dels­man

L. Han­dels­man

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