When a billionaire passed away, his family was stunned to find out to who he bequeathed his fortune.
The family of late Scholastic Inc. CEO M. Richard “Dick” Robinson Jr. was reportedly left “shocked” by his will and succession plan for the major book publishing company.
Robinson died unexpectedly on June 5 at age 84. His father had founded the company, now known for hot commodities in the book world like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Captain Underpants, and Robinson spent 46 years as CEO and chairman, working “full time until the moment of his death,” as his obituary states.
He has two sons, John Benham “Ben” Robinson, 34, and Maurice “Reece” Robinson, 25, with ex-wife Helen Benham, whom he recently became close to again before his death.
In a 2018 succession plan, Robinson named Scholastic’s chief strategy officer Iole Lucchese as his heir, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal.
Lucchese, whose relationship with Robinson was an “open secret” according to the newspaper, was described as “my partner and closest friend” in the will.
However, Robinson’s decision to overlook his sons and other family members and bequeath all his personal belongings to Lucchese triggered a succession crisis.
Robinson left about 3 million company shares, including 53.8% of its Class A shares, and more than 2 million common shares to Lucchese, a securities filing indicated.
A spokesperson for Scholastic told The Journal that about $70 million worth of Robinson’s common shares wouldn’t ultimately be owned by Lucchese, although it’s unclear who would inherit them.
Lucchese, who started working for Scholastic in Canada 30 years ago, became chair of its board in July.
Robinson’s succession plan left some family members reeling: John Benham Robinson, the publishing mogul’s older son, told The Journal that his father’s will had “served as salt in an open wound.” John, 34, said he spoke to Lucchese for the first time in late July about his father’s estate, The Journal reported.
Some of Robinson’s family members are considering legal action, unnamed sources close to the matter told The Journal.
Maurice Robinson, the younger son, told The Journal: “You might think from the will that he didn’t see his sons. That’s not true. For the last two years I saw him multiple times a week.”
She told the newspaper that while she worked with the publishing company, she “lived and breathed Scholastic while also raising our two children.”
“Dick told me on more than one occasion, ‘You care more about Scholastic than I do,’” she said.
Robinson died suddenly on 5 June during a walk in Martha’s Vineyard, Dukes county, Massachusetts at the age of 84. He was believed to be healthy and without any serious illness.