Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

Architect Zaha Hadid’s family locked in bitter feud over £67 million fortune

Patrik Schumacher is calling for the removal of the other executors of the trust controlling designer’s fortune

Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Bridge was one of the buildings designed by the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. The National.
Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Bridge was one of the buildings designed by the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. The National.

The family and friends of architect Zaha Hadid have been locked in a bitter legal battle for control of her £67 million (Dh320 million) fortune she left in her will.

The Baghdad-born architect, who designed buildings including the London Aquatics Centre and Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Bridge, died in a heart attack aged 65 in March 2016. She lived in Britain and never married or had children.

The majority of her fortune was placed into a trust controlled by four executors: her former business partner Patrik Schumacher, niece Rana Hadid, stained-glass artist friend Brian Clarke and British Conservative peer Lord Palumbo.

Mr Schumacher is now looking to remove the other three executors to take sole control of the fortune, after claiming they had been treating him with “unjustified hostility” since he made a speech in 2016 advocated abolishing social housing in city centres and selling off most of London’s Hyde Park for housing developments.

The architect was lambasted for his speech in Berlin. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “plain wrong” and the speech caused the other executors to “distance themselves from him” and “preserve the Hadid brand”.

London’s High Court heard that Ms Hadid, Lord Palumbo and Mr Clarke denied having any personal dislike of Mr Schumacher, but that their relationship with Mr Schumacher was a “difficult” one. Although the three said the relationship had not “irretrievably broken down”, they said that if an executor of the Hadid estate had to be removed, it would be Mr Schumacher.

Richard Wilson QC, representing Mr Schumacher, said in court documents that other executors had “improperly allowed their personal animosity towards and resentment of Mr Schumacher to influence their decision making” since his Berlin speech.

Mr Schumacher claims the trio acted with 'unjustified hostility' to exert more control over Zaha Hadid Ltd at board level, as well as moving £4.5 million out of the company and into another part of the estate.

Mr Wilson told the court that ill-feeling from the trio towards Mr Schumacher went back further after they all spoke at Ms Hadid’s memorial service. Dame Zaha’s former business partner claimed he was prevented from speaking at the service and was excluded from a dinner at the Serpentine Gallery in London celebrating an exhibition of Ms Hadid’s work.

The lawyer representing Rana Hadid, Mr Clarke and Lord Palumbo have resisted his petition and denied the allegations, saying that the trio do not act with any hostility towards Mr Schumacher.

Mr Schumacher's claim has been accepted for full trial later this year, which is due to last four days.

In November, Mr Schumacher claimed that he did not want to control the fortune and that he began the court proceedings to appoint “independent, professional executors” to be appointed instead. However, the trio claims that he brought the case for his own personal gain.

Updated: April 18, 2019 07:25 PM

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