Money & Power

What Happened to the $14.5-Million Fortune the Menendez Brothers Inherited After They Killed Their Parents?

Prosecutors argued that Erik and Lyle Menendez killed their parents out of greed. Here's a look at how much of the $14.5-million estate they inherited.
IMAGE SHUTTERSTOCK/KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/AP
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Lyle and Erik Menendez, whose brazen murder of their parents Kitty and Jose Menendez in 1989 and subsequent trials are the subject of a current NBC mini-series, are currently serving life sentences in separate California prisons.

The prosecution accused the brothers of committing the murders at their Beverly Hills home and argued they were motivated by a desire for control of their parents' reported $14.5 million estate. After two deadlocked jury trials, a third jury found the brothers guilty on April 17, 1996.

According to the California Slayer Statute, as dailybreeze.com points out, "when someone is feloniously murdered, the perpetrator cannot profit from the victim’s estate, whether there is a family relationship or not." If the killing were committed in self-defense, however, or deemed a justifiable homicide, the statute would not apply.

Not that there would be much of the estate left. Jose and Kitty's $14.5 million fortune, which Jose built as CEO of Live Entertainment, had "almost entirely been run through" by April 1994, though, according to the Los Angeles Times. By that point, $10.8 million had spent, about half going to the brothers' lawyers, including Leslie Abramson, who argued that Jose and Kitty Menendez subjected their sons to years of emotional and sexual abuse.


The Menendez home in Beverly Hills

In the six months following the murder, Lyle and Erik reportedly blew through $1 million on parties, travel, and shopping. Lyle spent more than $15,000 on three Rolex watches the day before his parents' funeral, witnesses and he would later testify, and in addition to thousands of dollars in gambling losses, Erik had also hired a tennis coach for $60,000 a year in the hopes of going pro.

The Menendez's home sold in 1991 for $3.6 million, a loss of nearly $1.2 million, all of which went to paying off the mortgage, closing costs, and the Internal Revenue Service. A Calabasas house that their parents owned and were renovating, which had been appraised at $2.65 million, sold in 1994 for much less: $1.94 million.

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That property also had an $864,000 mortgage that needed to be paid, and the year of the sale the estate still owed taxes estimated at $600,000 along with attorneys' fees and court costs from the trials.

So how much is left? It's hard to know for sure, but zero is probably pretty close.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Sam Dangremond
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