Photo: Elad Gershgorn
Lea Gottlieb. Changed her mind?
Photo: Elad Gershgorn

Chabad seeks swimsuit queen's estate

Hasidic group demands 10% of Gottex founder Lea Gottlieb's inheritance, worth millions, claiming 'she mentioned us in her will.' Family lawyer: Chabad not mentioned in second, final will

In 1986, bus stops in Israel were torched one after the other. The culprits, young ultra-Orthodox men, explained that they had set fire to the bus stops because of " posters of abomination" hung on them, which showed models in revealing swimsuits.


Now, 27 years later, the Chabad Center is demanding 10% of the inheritance of Gottex founder Lea Gottlieb, who was considered Israel's "swimsuit queen." According to estimates, Gottlieb's estate is worth tens of millions of shekels.


What does the Hasidic movement have to do with bathing suits? This question is expected to be addressed by the court, which will discuss the details of Gottlieb's inheritance.


Lea Gottlieb, who died in November at the age of 94, founded the Gottex swimwear company in 1956 with her late husband, Armin. The company became an Israeli and international success story, as its bathing suits were worn by Princess Diana and British supermodel Naomi Campbell and sold in the world's leading department stores.


When Gottlieb's relatives attempted to execute the will, they were surprised to discover that the Chabad-Lubavitch Center in Tel Aviv had turned to the Will Registry and objected the will's execution.


Attorney Yosef David Shachor, representing the center, explained that the Gottex factory had been located next to a Chabad Talmud Torah school in Tel Aviv's Yad Eliyahu neighborhood, and that over the years Gottlieb had formed a friendly relationship with the managers of the haredi institution.


"The late Mrs. Lea Gottlieb was a regular donor and had an ongoing relationship with Chabad," claimed Attorney Shachor. "As far as we know, she wrote a will in which she left Chabad a significant part of her estate. From a conversation with the Chabad representative who was in touch with her, we were unable to conclude that there had been any change cancelling the inheritance to Chabad completely.


"To our surprise, we found out that this was indeed what had happened and that there was a new will. Therefore, we submitted our objection to the Will Registry so that the court would rule which will was valid and what happened to the clause promising part of the inheritance to Chabad."


The will prepared by Gottlieb in 2003 did include a clause stating that 10% of her estate would be transferred to Chabad in return for naming the Talmud Torah school after her and her late husband. In 2007, however, Gottlieb wrote a new will which did not mention Chabad.


Lea Gottlieb had two daughters: The late Judith Gottfried and Miriam Ruzow, who is the main beneficiary in the new will. Advocate Maya Joseph-Wiseman, who represents the late Gottfried's relatives, refused to comment on the matter.


Attorney Boaz Kraus, representing Ruzow, said in response: "The wishes of the deceased must be honored. The attempt to act against her final will is unthinkable. I have no doubt that the court will approve the final will, and anyone trying to act against it will bear the consequences of their actions."



פרסום ראשון: 03.09.13, 07:54
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