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Doris Duke's Teen Heirs Battle Being 'Poor' While Waiting for $1B

By James Fanelli | October 25, 2012 6:57am

NEW YORK CITY — Teen twins Georgia Inman and Walker Patterson Inman III are expected to be worth $1 billion when they turn 21 — but right now they have to worry about paying the rent.

The siblings are the grandniece and grandnephew of the late tobacco heiress and Manhattan philanthropist Doris Duke, who was once called “the richest girl in the world” and split her time among a $44 million Upper East Side mansion, a 2,740-acre farm in New Jersey and a breathtaking Mediterranean-style retreat in Hawaii that she dubbed "Shangri-la."

The Inmans turned 15 on Tuesday, leaving them six years away from the staggering inheritance. They have also been at the center of an acrimonious custody case between their mother and their late father’s fifth and final wife — a battle that has limited their access to trust funds.

The twins reside in South Carolina with their mom, Daisha Inman, a former topless dancer who has no income of her own, according to court filings in Manhattan Surrogate Court.

Daisha Inman, 52, receives at least $15,900 month from two of the twins’ trusts to cover their basic expenses, like rent, food and entertainment, records show. But in the spring the three were forced out of their $8,000-a-month Sullivan’s Island home because of rent issues, court records show.

Daisha Inman blamed the move on JPMorgan, the administrator of a trust that currently provides for the twins. She claims it parcels out small payments to them, making it difficult to keep up with rent and other utilities. She also says JPMorgan has turned down her requests for a large lump sum to buy a home.

JPMorgan has said in court records that it has used discretion in doling out money during the custody battle and wants to prevent the trust from being drained before the twins turn 21.

It has also turned down some hefty financial requests from Daisha Inman. In 2010 JPMorgan denied her request for $50,000 to cover Christmas gifts, including a trained Quarter horse, a snowmobile, go-carts, and trips to Disney World, Hawaii and around the world.

Daisha Inman claims that the tightened purse strings have hampered the lifestyle that her kids had grown accustomed to before their father’s death.

"My point is my children are not used to the financial restraints on them,” she wrote in a Nov. 3, 2011, email to a JPMorgan executive. “It my [sic] be hard for trustee to understand but my children feel like they are poor now.”

Walker Patterson Inman Jr., the twins’ father, was 57 when he died of a methadone overdose in a Colorado Holiday Inn on Feb. 24, 2010. His grandfather was James “Buck” Duke, a tobacco magnate whose company made Lucky Strike cigarettes. Duke University bears the family’s name. Inman Jr.'s father came from a wealthy family of cotton merchants in the South.

Inman Jr. was also close to his aunt, Doris Duke, the twice-divorced globe-trotting socialite who at times considered her enormous fortune a curse. She died in 1993 at 80, leaving behind an epic fortune. Her Hillsborough, N.J., estate is now a public park, and her Honolulu retreat has opened as a museum.

Inman Jr.’s death certificate lists his occupation as “lifetime adventurer." A paid obituary in the Denver Post described him as a pyrotechnic expert who was an avid collector of swords, guns and steam engines. He had a mountaintop home in Wyoming he called “Outlaw Acres” and a 300-acre plantation in South Carolina.

Nicknamed "Skipper," Inman Jr. also traveled the South Pacific in his yacht, "Devine Decadence." When he moored at a port in New Zealand, he reportedly stored his cache of weapons — a machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade launcher — with the local police department. 

Daisha Inman became Inman Jr.’s fourth wife after the couple wed in 1996. A year later the twins were born. But the marriage ended in 2000, with Inman Jr. given custody of the children.

According to records obtained by the Georgetown Times in South Carolina, a court-appointed guardian in Wyoming sided with Inman Jr., despite his drug and alcohol abuse and “his unusual, perhaps dysfunctional, upbringing.”

In the decision, the guardian cited Daisha Inman’s past as a dancer and her symptoms of paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder, the Georgetown Times reported.

The bitter battle over custody and visitations dragged over the next 10 years, and during one Wyoming case, Inman Jr. explained to the court that when the twins turned 21, they would be the beneficiaries of a trust valued at $1 billion.

Since Inman Jr.’s death, his fifth wife, Daralee, has tried to obtain guardianship of the twins, with her and Daisha both calling each other unfit parents. Daralee has so far been unsuccessful, and Daisha gained custody of kids in August 2010.

Even before she had custody, Daisha asked JPMorgan for $430,500 from the trust, according to court records. The request was denied.

 Georgia Inman, 15, is expected to be worth $500 million when she turns 21.
Georgia Inman, 15, is expected to be worth $500 million when she turns 21.
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The trust stems from the estate of Nanaline Duke, Doris’s mother. When Inman Jr. died, the trust went to the twins, with each holding a $14 million principal in it as of Jan. 1.

Since she gained custody of the kids, Daisha Inman has frequently made heavy demands to JPMorgan for money, according to court records.

JPMorgan said in a filing that it denied her request for $25,000 to retain a lawyer to challenge Inman Jr.’s estate and to fund a criminal investigation into his and Daralee’s treatment of the children.

Last Halloween, she requested nearly $6,000 to cover a haunted house party at her home for the twins and their friends, according to emails that JPMorgan filed with the court. The trust gave her $2,800 instead.

Email exchanges between Daisha Inman and a JPMorgan executive show the trust pays Daisha monthly amounts of $1,800 for food, $8,000 for housing, $3,600 to rent a car, $500 for gas and an unknown amount for tuition. Another trust administered by Citibank pays for the twins’ medical insurance, a housekeeper, utilities, and $2,000 in monthly spending for their clothing and other expenses, according to the emails. 

Daisha Inman wrote in one email that she spends $20 a day at Starbucks for her kids, “who love the healthy drinks and sandwiches." She added that she spends $1,000 a month to eat out.

But the money, she claims, just isn’t enough.

“I’m always trying to juggle funds because trustee requires me to pay in advance for many things my children need and at times will not reimburse me for it,” she wrote in an email.

When the twins lived with their dad, $180,000 a month was spent on their care, according to one of her emails.

“My children did grow up financially privileged. Being raised by nannies and having all the money they could spend. This was a way of life for 10 years,” she wrote in an email, noting her kids' trips on the "Devine Decadence" and a home in Australia.

She added that her rent allowance has been wasted, since it could pay the mortgage on a $4 million home if the trust gave her a lump sum for a down payment.

But JPMorgan hasn't relented. It has also repeatedly asked to meet with the children in person, for her to provide receipts for purchases like clothes and for information on how she was using the funding.

In January, lawyers for the firm asked for guidance from the Manhattan Surrogate Court on how to address the financial requests. Judge Nora Anderson has since appointed Nassau County lawyer Lawrence Murphy as an independent guardian to act in the interest of the children in the proceeding. 

“One thing that has become apparent to me is that there is a great amount of friction between the natural mother of my wards and the [JPMorgan] trustee,” Murphy wrote in a May 30 filing to the court.

He noted Daisha Inman and her kids claimed at the time that they were being forced to relocate to a hotel from their home.

That same month, she was arrested for public drunkenness at a gas station in Mount Pleasant, Ga., according to a police report.  Concerned bystanders had noticed her talking loudly and stumbling, and were concerned she would drive away in her SUV, the report said. A judge later deferred sentencing if she managed to stay out of trouble, the Georgetown Times reported.

Daisha Inman, her lawyer, Charlie Condon, and Murphy did not return calls for comment. JPMorgan declined to comment. The proceeding in Manhattan Surrogate Court is still ongoing.