News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Don Singleton, Daily News, New York
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 1, 2002 - Liesel Pritzker was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.
Now she claims her family hocked it.
The ultrarich Pritzkers were shocked by the charge, contained in a multibillion-dollar suit that Pritzker, the 18-year-old actress and Hyatt hotel heiress, filed in Chicago.
The suit accuses Pritzker's billionaire father, Chicago business executive Robert Pritzker, 76, and other family members of draining her trust funds of more than $1 billion.
Liesel Pritzker, known in Hollywood as Liesel Matthews, played Harrison Ford's daughter in the 1997 hit "Air Force One," and also starred in "The Little Princess" in 1995.
She claims in the suit that her trust funds' assets were sold by her father at below-market prices when she was a child, then transferred to trust funds that benefit other family members.
Since 1994, Liesel Pritzker has "been the victim of an unlawful, secret and fraudulent scheme to deplete her ownership interests in her family's holdings," the suit insists.
The suit adds that the way the family handled the trusts was "so heinous, obnoxious and offensive as to constitute a fraud on the plaintiff."
The action asks a Cook County Circuit Court to force Robert Pritzker and a dozen other family members to make good on the alleged losses, and to throw in at least an additional $5 billion in punitive damages.
The family, known for guarding its privacy, issued a brusque statement.
"This is a family matter, and we are not going to comment, other than to say that it is sad when a daughter, who is a beneficiary of great family wealth and tremendous advantage, sues her father and other members of the family," the family said in a statement.
The Pritzkers control a private fortune estimated at more than $15 billion. Major holdings include the Hyatt Corp., with estimated 2001 revenues of $2 billion, and the Marmon Group, which holds a number of manufacturing and financial service companies worth an estimated $7.2 billion.
Liesel Pritzker is one of 12 surviving grandchildren of patriarch Abram Nicholas Pritzker, a financier and industrialist who died in 1986. He left "substantially all of the vast holdings" of the family to trust funds, according to the suit.
-----To see more of the Daily News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.NYDailyNews.com
(c) 2002, Daily News, New York. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.