Thursday, July 14, 2005

Judge Annuls 97-Year-Old's Marriage

THIS case made it all the way up to State Supreme Court! *rolling eyes* *laughing* Talk about good use of money and paying rich lawyers....

-S


Courtesy of wnbc.com website

Judge Annuls 97-Year-Old's Marriage

POSTED: 8:30 am EDT July 14, 2005
UPDATED: 11:19 am EDT July 14, 2005


NEW YORK -- A Manhattan judge has annulled the marriage of a physician-businessman who treated Argentina's Juan and Eva Peron, saying the man did not understand what he was doing when at age 95 he married a woman who was 37 years younger.

State Supreme Court Justice Laura Drager said she was satisfied after a hearing on the mental state of Dr. Herbert Hofmann, an Argentine-born multimillionaire, he "was incapable of understanding the nature, effect and consequences of getting married."

Despite Drager's ruling, Hofmann, now a Swiss citizen, and Genevieve Pignarre, with whom he has had an on-again, off-again intimate relationship for 35 years, are living together in Paris.

The couple married on July 8, 2003, in New York City's Municipal Building, Drager's decision says. He was 95 and she was 58.

About four months after the marriage, a longtime friend of Hofmann's initiated guardianship proceedings. The court appointed Charyn Powers as Hofmann's guardian, and Powers subsequently sought an annulment of the marriage.

Powers' lawyer, Donald Frank, said his client and others found it "peculiar that a marriage would be taking place after all that time." He said Pignarre tried to keep the wedding a secret and "there were worries about her self-dealing."

Pignarre's lawyer, Sandra Katz, said, "In my opinion, the decision is not correct."

Though Powers said Hofmann suffered progressive, incurable dementia, Katz said Hofmann was fully aware of what he was saying when the marriage clerk questioned him.

Hofmann, who had relationships with many women in his lifetime, stayed close to Pignarre, Drager said. She said it was at his request that Pignarre came to New York in 1997 to live with him in his Sutton Place apartment when he got sick.

Drager's decision said Hofmann and Pignarre met at a party in Manhattan in 1970 when she was a 26-year-old model and he was a 63-year-old globe-trotting businessman. He brought a date to the party, but he gave Pignarre his card and told her to call him.

A year later, Pignarre met Hofmann in Geneva, Drager said, and began their romance. For most of the 1970s, they lived in Paris and Geneva. They never married.

Wanting children, Drager wrote, Pignarre began a relationship with a Frenchman in 1978. They had two children and parted in 1991. They never married.

Meanwhile, Hofmann and Pignarre remained close, the judge wrote. He even visited her in the hospital when her children were born.

Pignarre said that after she came to New York to live with Hofmann in 1997, he proposed repeatedly, Drager wrote. Pignarre said he wanted to marry to make sure she had enough money to live on.

Katz said she doubts her client will appeal, but the lawyer said she will seek equitable distribution of assets and support for her client.

Katz said Hofmann, a wealthy man all of his life and a friend and physician to the Perons and other internationally prominent figures, owned a bank in Switzerland and has some $300 million in assets in Europe.

Frank said an anomaly of New York law is that after a marriage is annulled -- in effect, declared to not have existed -- an ex-spouse can still seek financial support.