NEW YORK — Bill Blass’ will was officially proven in a probate court in Washington Depot, Conn., on Wednesday, revealing several details about the late designer’s estate, including its estimated total worth of $67 million.
This story first appeared in the September 19, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Blass, who died on June 12 and listed his official residence in Connecticut, left $1 million bequests to each of five of his favorite charities and institutions, including the Fashion Institute of Technology, Indiana University, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Animal Medical Center and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, according to the Connecticut counsel for the Blass estate.
The Indiana University Art Museum will host a retrospective of the designer’s career, with an opening reception and gala Oct. 4. Blass donated large amounts of his archived collections to the museum throughout his career and was fond of the school partly because it is located in his home state.
As reported, several of Blass’ close friends have also been included among the beneficiaries: Steve Kaufmann, whose family operated the Kaufmann’s retail dynasty in Pittsburgh; John Richardson, the art dealer who helped Blass buy his Picassos; and Missy Bancroft, who introduced him to a lot of the society dames in the Fifties, are each said to be in line to inherit a portion of Blass’ fortune.
According to attorneys who have seen the court papers, Blass made bequests to 18 individuals, including two family members. After the charitable and institutional claims are paid, the remaining funds are intended to be divided between the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Society of New York Hospital Fund Inc., specifically earmarked for AIDS patient care.
It was not immediately clear how Blass’ property, including a trove of important art and antiques, will be managed, although several of his friends expect the co-executors of his estate, Michael Groveman, chief executive of Bill Blass Ltd., and the designer’s friend Casey Ribicoff, would create a foundation that would benefit from the auction of his collections. The Connecticut counsel said Blass’ Sutton Place apartment in Manhattan and its contents, estimated to be worth millions more, would be handled separately in an ancillary proceeding.