For $65 Million, Duke Daughter Ends Claim to Estate

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From Times Wire Services

Doris Duke’s adopted daughter has ended her fight to gain control of the late billionaire’s fortune in exchange for a $65-million settlement from the estate.

In a settlement signed Thursday by Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Renee Roth, Chandi Duke Heffner, 42, dropped claims to the $1.2-billion estate and dropped a breach-of-contract suit contending that Duke reneged on a promise to support her for life, said Heffner’s lawyer, David Keyko.

Keyko said that $800,000 was paid to Heffner on Friday. The balance is due Wednesday.

The tobacco heiress’ fortune, one of the largest in U.S. history, has been the subject of complicated legal wrangling since she died at age 80 in 1993. Duke’s father, James Buchanan Duke, founded American Tobacco Co.


Heffner, 42, was adopted by Duke in 1988, but after the two had a falling out, Duke took Heffner out of the will. Duke was twice divorced and had no other children.

Duke left most of her money to charity and named her butler, Bernard Lafferty, co-executor of the estate.

Fighting over Duke’s will is not over.

Her former physician, Dr. Harry Demopoulos, is seeking to unseat Lafferty as co-executor.

Earlier this year, Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Eve Preminger removed Lafferty from that position for allegedly squandering the estate’s assets on lavish living but Lafferty is appealing the ruling.