For more than 26 years, a probate battle has raged over the estate of wealthy Connecticut businessman Francis “Hi Ho” D’Addario. Before D’Addario died in 1986, he prepared a will that distributed his estate, valued as high as $162 million, to his wife and five children. Between lawsuits and probate laws that fail to protect against abuse, 26 years later the D’Addario will is still pending before a probate court. Even worse, when the case was unsealed last fall, it was found to be insolvent. But where did $162 million go? Estate of Denial ponders this question:
On a rainy and foggy March night in 1986, a small plane crashed outside of Chicago, killing F. Francis “Hi Ho” D’Addario, one of the most prolific and colorful industrialists of the 20th century in Connecticut.
Successful and wealthy, D’Addario was a 63-year-old Bridgeport businessman who had a will that distributed his substantial estate – valued at as much as $162 million — among his wife and five children.
It was a complicated matter. D’Addario Industries was diverse, from construction and paving to real estate, television and gambling to the Brakettes, a professional women’s softball team. That was nothing, however, compared to the mess that awaited in Connecticut’s probate courts.