NEW YORK — The bulk of Geoffrey Beene’s estimated $208.9 million estate may end up going to the dogs, some cats and other animals.
Beene’s last will and testament and other documents filed with the state of New York after his death are shedding more light on the life of a man who, with Donald Brooks and Bill Blass, was a driving force behind the growth of American fashion.
Beene directed that the proceeds from his remaining assets — estimated at more than $205 million after bequeathing $3.4 million to employees, friends and family members — be used to establish a charitable foundation whose directors would, in turn, make contributions to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Medical Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Beene’s certificate of death provided its own surprise, revealing that the fashion icon had been born Aug. 20, 1924, in Haynesville, La., making him 80 years of age rather than the 77 that was widely reported.
Beene died at 10:45 a.m. on Sept. 28 in his Upper East Side town house. The cause of death was complications from pneumonia, said Helen O’Hagan, a friend and the former vice president of corporate public relations at Saks Fifth Avenue.
The death certificate stated that he had attended some college without attaining a degree, a reference to the three years Beene spent as a pre-med student at Tulane University. The certificate also indicated that he had never served in the military and never married. The words “Fashion Designer” were listed in a box asking for the deceased’s usual occupation. Beene’s remains were cremated at the Garden State Crematory in North Bergen, N.J., on Oct. 1.
An affidavit of heirship filed by Beene’s accountant, Max Eisikovic, who said he had known the designer for six years, supported the 1924 birth date. It also noted that Beene had been born Samuel A. Bozeman Jr., named after his father. “To the best of my knowledge, he adopted the name Geoffrey Beene in the 1950s,” Eisikovic said, according to his affidavit. Perhaps not so coincidently, Beene arrived in New York in 1950, after having apprenticed with a local tailor while studying fashion at the L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale in Paris.Barbara Wellman of Conroe, Tex., Beene’s sister and only sibling, was the largest individual beneficiary. According to the will, Beene bequeathed his “wearing apparel, jewelry, motor vehicles, any household furniture and household effects not disposed of,” and his insurance policies to Wellman, who also received $1 million.
Estate documents revealed that most of Beene’s assets rested in stock of the company bearing his name. Beene held $160 million in Geoffrey Beene Inc. stock at the time of his death. Another $34.3 million was held in Treasury Bills, with $472,973.63 in cash in an account with J.P. Morgan Chase.
Beene’s cooperative apartment on East 69th Street was estimated to be valued at $1.5 million, while his Long Island country home was estimated to be worth $5 million. Based on his instructions in the will, it can be inferred that the Long Island house was a special place for Beene.
After his cremation, Beene directed his ashes to be “scattered in front of the entrance to the greenhouse at my home located at Shutter Lane, Oyster Bay Cove…to the right of the arborvitae.”
Beene also gave specific instructions as to how a memorial service should be conducted. “I wish no formal funeral service; rather, as soon as practicable, I request that my beneficiaries gather at a suitably tasteful restaurant…for a great dinner party. I desire such event to be marked by joyful attitudes to the exclusion of any mourning,” said Beene, adding that the dinner would be paid for by the proceeds from the sale of his estate.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast