Domestic Diversions

Not so obscene legal fees

The ABA Journal e-report shows how artist Jeff Koons racked up $4 million in his divorce from Italian porn star/politician Ilona Staller.

Dan Michalski writes (excerpt):
Koons was granted the divorce a year later and awarded sole custody of their child, Ludwig, now 12. But the case was far from over. It was re-litigated in Italy, then re-re-litigated when Staller defied an American court order and took their son to Rome.

Paul Weiss represented Koons throughout the case. The Koons divorce team would eventually seek help from ambassadors, State Department officials and members of Congress. But six years later, the boy was still living in Europe with his mother. Koons, meanwhile, had racked up more than $4 million in legal fees, of which he had paid about $2 million. He apparently thought that was plenty, and stopped paying anything more. In 2000, Paul Weiss sued him for the remaining balance.
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“[Defendant Koons] is not alleging the plaintiff charged an unreasonable hourly fee to have associates, for instance, watch pornographic videos, a necessary part of preparing to litigate the underlying custody dispute between defendant and his former wife,” Acosta wrote. “The underlying litigation, albeit with noble intent of protecting his child, was nevertheless an extravagant effort of defendant through a top-notch law firm to control and dictate terms of the dispute with defendantís former wife.

“Such extravagance is costly,” the opinion states, “[and] the fact is that defendant never objected to the bills or tactics which generated such hefty bills. Indeed, defendant encouraged such tactics.”

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