One of Audrey Hepburn's sons claims the other is interfering in the display of her memorabilia and as a result, her children's charity is losing out on money

By Daniel Goldblatt
February 09, 2017 02:37 PM
Hulton Archive/Getty

One of Audrey Hepburn’s sons claims the other is interfering in the display of her memorabilia and as a result, her children’s charity is losing out on money, according to new legal documents.

According to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, the Audrey Hepburn’s Children’s Fund relies on the display and licensing of memorabilia of the late actress and that memorabilia is controlled by her two sons: Sean Ferrer, whom she had with her first husband, Mel Ferrer; and Luca Dotti, whose father was Hepburn’s second husband, Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti.

The suit claims the brothers started the charity together in 1993 and each had the authority to make licensing deals without needing permission from the other.

But according to the lawsuit, the charity claims Ferrer began to “suffer a financial crisis” around 2008 and began to interfere with the organization’s efforts to raise funds. According to the suit, the charity claims Ferrer tried unsuccessfully in March 2013 to block them from using Hepburn’s memorabilia to raise money.

“The position is while it’s acknowledged that both sons have certain rights, Sean has always acted as if he alone has the right to approve or not approve what is done with her image and likeness and name,” Steve E. Young, a lawyer representing the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, tells PEOPLE.

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“The fund is not pretending that Sean does not have a right to use her name and image and likeness … but the issue is this continuing assertion of control or purported control that Sean believes he has so that nothing can happen using her name or likeness or image regarding the fund’s ability to put on exhibits with memorabilia that it owns, which brought this to a head,” adds Young.

A rep for Ferrer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The suit claims that in April 2013, Ferrer took control of the charity’s email and website and changed the password. The charity also claims Ferrer began registering websites using Audrey Hepburn’s name, including one that was the same name as a recent cookbook Dotti, who is the Chairman of the Audrey Hepburn’s Children’s Fund, had written, called Audrey at Home.

The charity also claims Ferrer caused the postponement of an exhibition in Australia and cost the group an opportunity for an exhibition in Korea, which caused the charity to lose out on money.

“We don’t know what his reasons are,” adds Young. “Sean has continued to put his nose under the tent where it does not belong and it would be one thing, as a loving son if the fund was doing something that was denigrating her memory or her legacy or her personage in any way, but that has never happened.”

The charity is asking a judge to enforce the fund’s ability to use the Hepburn memorabilia and to prevent Ferrer from further interfering in their work.