According to media reports, Former Apple CEO John Sculley is currently being sued by his ex-wife, of 32 years, Carol “Leezy” Sculley, for allegedly hiding more than $25 million in assets from her at the time of their divorce. Sculley and Leezy settled their divorce in 2011, but Leezy claims that Sculley hid more than $25 million from her at that time. According to Leezy’s petition to the Florida Circuit Court, Sculley failed to disclose “substantial private equity investments and investments in privately held companies and ventures around the globe.”
Leezy claims Sculley hid his assets by transferring them to and placing them in the name of family members. Leezy alleges that Sculley’s stakes in several startup companies were actually held in his brothers’ names. We see this all the time and we blog about it over and over (here, here and here). People from the ultra-rich to those with modest incomes tend to hide their assets with family members and close friends. That’s why, to do a thorough asset search, you generally have to look into the assets of close friends and family members as well.
It’s unfortunate that Leezy didn’t do a little due diligence while the divorce proceedings were ongoing. It would have been better to uncover the assets at that time rather than try to undo a divorce settlement agreement years later. Chances are, if we’d done a search on Sculley and his brothers, we may have come across something that might have led us to the names of at least some of the companies Sculley was involved with.
We’re skilled at identifying debtor’s stakes in secret companies through extensive public record research and through interviewing people. Given more information about some of Sculley’s company investments, Leezy’s attorney would have been able to seek discovery of those companies and may have learned what Sculley’s stakes were. This might have entitled Leezy to millions of dollars in assets she did not otherwise know about. As we often say, it’s worth spending a few thousand bucks up front on due diligence to save millions of dollars down the road.