An ugly fight over Stan Lee’s finances is headed to court, as a lawsuit was filed Friday accusing a former publicist of elder abuse.
Jerry Olivarez, who has been closely involved in the former Marvel chairman’s affairs, is accused of draining $1.4 million from Lee’s accounts, buying a West Hollywood condo with Lee’s funds, and setting up a fake charity to sell comic books stamped with Lee’s blood. Lee is 95, and according to the suit, became vulnerable to financial swindles following the death of his wife last July.
Hands of Respect, the purported charity, held itself out as promoting racial harmony. According to its website, blood was drawn from Lee with his “full support and at his urging,” and then used to stamp “DNA Ink” on comic books “as legacy and for his fans.” According to the suit, however, Lee did not consent to the idea.
“Lee never approved of the use of his blood as a merchandising item, or for any other use,” the lawsuit states. “Naturally, this compounded Lee’s grief and angst and caused him tremendous emotional distress.”
The lawsuit is one salvo in what figures to be a messy battle between several people in Lee’s orbit. Earlier this week, the Hollywood Reporter detailed the conflicts between Olivarez, Keya Morgan, a memorabilia collector, and Mack Anderson, who operated a pop-up show of Lee memorabilia called the Stan Lee Museum.
Olivarez did not return a call seeking comment. Morgan told Variety on Friday that several unscrupulous people had begun to circle Lee as his wife fell ill.
“It’s like vultures waiting for a corpse to die,” Morgan said. “It’s just a case of many snakes, leeches, sharks, vultures, jackals, wolves, surrounding her and waiting to take a piece of it.”
The lawsuit claims that Olivarez used Lee’s money to buy an $850,000 condo in West Hollywood. In addition, Olivarez is accused of inserting himself into Lee’s will, stealing jewelry and cash, and investing tens of thousands of dollars in a tie business that turned out to be a scam.