LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Billionaire Donald Bren has prevailed in a high-stakes legal battle between the real estate mogul and his two adult children over $134 million in retroactive child support.
Jurors deliberated two hours before siding with the 78-year-old
Irvine Co. chairman, whose attorney argued that no family court
would have given the children more than the millions he already
The unusual case was a high-stakes contest between one of the
nation’s richest men and two adult children he fathered during a
13-year affair with Jennifer McKay Gold. She brought the lawsuit on
behalf of her children, Christie Bren, 22, and her brother, David,
Gold, who signed agreements with Donald Bren when the children
were born, said they were cheated out of the support to which they
The suit sought $400,000 a month for each of the children in
retroactive child support from 1988 to 2002. Their mother testified
she received a total of about $3 million for them during that
Four contracts were created involving child support each time
Gold became pregnant and after the children were born. The accords,
beginning in 1988, rose from $3,500 a month to $18,000 a month
between 1992 and 2002.
Gold said she accepted it because Donald Bren promised to have a
relationship with the children. But Gold said he ignored the
children when they approached him in a restaurant in 2001, and she
realized Bren was reneging on his promise. He testified there never
was a promise.
Donald Bren, a billionaire with a penchant for privacy, stepped
into the court’s public spotlight to testify that he never loved
Gold and never planned to be a parent to the two children. He said
he provided enough for them to live a privileged life and agreed to
pay for their education.
With an estimated net worth of $12 billion, Bren is 16th in
Forbes’ Magazine’s ranking of the 400 richest Americans.
Attempts to reach attorneys after the verdict were not
Lawyer Hillel Chodos, who represents the children, said in
opening statements that they had lived a life similar to many upper
middle-class children while their father lived “like a
“They are not here because they didn’t have enough to live
on,” he told the jury in closing arguments Wednesday. “They are
here because they were deprived by Donald Bren of their birthright.
… They had the right to share in his standard of living.”
That standard, Chodos said, included two California homes, a Sun
Valley ranch, a New York apartment, private planes and a yacht.
Attorney John Quinn, who represented Donald Bren, said the estimate
of the real estate mogul’s liquid assets was exaggerated.