- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Elton battles tax man

Elton John has filed a lawsuit against the Fulton County, Ga., tax assessor’s office, saying the county overvalued his penthouse condominium.

According to Associated Press, the tax assessor’s office placed a value of $4.6 million on Mr. John’s 12,000-square-foot condo on Peachtree Street in Atlanta’s trendy Buckhead neighborhood. That value is $900,000 too much, the 59-year-old singer’s experts say. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob has ordered the two sides to try to resolve the dispute through mediation.

If he prevails, Mr. John will save $16,000 a year in taxes. If he loses, he can expect to pay $77,250 a year. Craig Klayman, a tax consultant hired to represent Mr. John in his lawsuit, said money is not the issue. “I just don’t see how the county can justify that number,” Mr. Klayman said. “It’s just too high, looking at what everybody else is valued at.”

Fulton County residents have long complained that tax values bear little relationship to sales values. A critical audit released last year noted inconsistent values. The audit eventually led to the resignations of three of the five assessors. The chief appraiser also stepped down.

Royal purchase

Viscount David Linley has revealed that he is the anonymous buyer of the 1957 Pietro Annigoni portrait of his mother, Princess Margaret, that was sold at an auction last week, APreports.

Mr. Linley paid $1.26 million for the portrait in the auction he and his sister, Lady Sarah Chatto, organized of their mother’s possessions to pay an estimated $5.6 million inheritance tax on the estate. He decided to buy back the portrait after the auction’s opening day brought in far more than had been estimated, his spokeswoman, Christina MacMillan, said yesterday.

The portrait, hyped as one of the bigger-ticket items in the frenzied two-day auction, opened at Christie’s at $370,000. The 800 lots of artwork, jewelry and furniture fetched $25.5 million, more than four times the amount predicted.

No. 7 for Evans

Noted Hollywood producer Robert Evans is getting divorced for the seventh time, TMZ.com reports. According to court papers filed Friday, Lady Victoria White, 43, has asked for a divorce from the 75-year-old producer — whose films include “Chinatown” and “Urban Cowboy” — citing “irreconcilable differences.” The two have no children from their marriage.

The couple were married inJuly 2005 in Mexico, and at the time, the well-bronzed Mr. Evans told Time magazine, “She’s the only girl I’ve ever married who’s not an actress or an aspiring actress, and you have no idea what a pleasure that is.” Among Mr. Evans’ six former brides are actresses Ali McGraw and Catherine Oxenberg.

Jackson’s new woes

A year after Michael Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges, a lawsuit by a former associate is headed for a trial that will put the star’s chaotic financial dealings in the spotlight.

Mr. Jackson is not expected in court, but he will be seen through videotaped depositions, Associated Press reports. He is being sued by F. Marc Schaffel for $3.8 million in what Mr. Schaffel says are unrepaid loans and expenses, unpaid salary for work on a charity record and his share of proceeds from two TV specials that were produced to bolster Mr. Jackson’s battered reputation after child molestation claims surfaced.

Facts involved in Mr. Jackson’s criminal trial last year are likely to be revisited when Mr. Schaffel testifies about his role in attending to the family of a boy who claimed he was molested by Mr. Jackson. However, most of the witnesses called by Mr. Schaffel will be money managers and business advisers. Jury selection is set for Monday.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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