Australian mining magnate's daughter wins $20 million from will

Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:06am EST
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PERTH, Australia (Reuters) - An Australian court has awarded a A$25 million ($20 million) lump sum to Olivia Mead, the daughter of late mining billionaire Michael Wright, after she brought a case claiming that the A$3 million he left her in his will was not enough.

Given the "colossal" size of Wright's estate, the provisions made for Mead were inadequate, the West Australian Supreme Court's Master Sanderson said in a judgment published on Thursday.

Wright made his fortune in iron ore mining through Wright Prospecting and founded the Voyager Estate winery.

Mead, 19, was raised by her mother and had only sporadic contact with Wright, although he paid child support and school fees and gave her some pocket money.

She brought the case against the executor of her father's estate and her two older half-sisters, who the court estimated had each inherited some A$400 million.

The A$3 million trust Mead was set to access at age 30 was too unwieldy, Master Sanderson said. "This structure does not guarantee the plaintiff A$3 million. There is a real prospect she might get nothing," he said.

During the trial, Mead had provided an itemized list of costs ranging from a A$2.5 million house and A$250,000 for a guitar plus more than A$20,000 a year for the upkeep of pets including a dog, a rabbit, a ferret and an axolotl or Mexican walking fish, according to media reports.

Some of the items, notably the guitar, were "clearly fanciful", Master Sanderson said. "No one needs a guitar of that value - particularly a 19-year-old girl who is not now and never will be a professional musician."

(Reporting By Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Alan Raybould)