Former Lehman CEO deeds Fla. mansion to wife

Published: Monday, January 26, 2009 at 8:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 26, 2009 at 8:28 p.m.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The former CEO of Lehman Brothers has deeded his multimillion-dollar Florida mansion on an exclusive barrier island to his wife.

Lehman Brothers collapsed in September. Richard Fuld left the company without severance or a bonus and has been criticized for not acting quickly enough to save the struggling bank, which lost billions of dollars. He remains under federal investigation into whether bank executives misled investors about the company's assets.

Fuld could also face civil lawsuits from investors.

He and his wife, Kathleen, had owned the home jointly since paying $13.7 million for it in 2004, according to property records. He deeded the posh Jupiter Island oceanfront estate about 100 miles north of Miami to her exclusively on Nov. 10 for a nominal $100, the minimum amount needed for a property transfer.

The home is currently worth about $13.3 million, according to tax records.

Miami bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade said such deed transfers are typical in estate planning or divorces, calling it "very normal."

"It's really just a name change," he said.

Fuld's reason for removing his name from the home's ownership wasn't clear, since Kingcade said the move may still not protect the mansion if there is a civil judgment against him within four years of the deed transfer.

Kingcade said that under Florida law, any asset transfer within four years of a judgment could be undone by the courts.

"How may that play out? Maybe he has good lawyers and they can delay any judgment being entered against him," Kingcade said. "But it is suspicious. People don't transfer their assets out of their name for no good reason."

Kingcade also noted that under Florida law, jointly owned property is protected from seizure by those seeking to collect a debt, meaning if there was judgment against Fuld, and the home was owned by Fuld and his wife, it could not be taken.

The Fulds have apparently been trying to shore up personal funds in the wake of Lehman's collapse. Just two days after the deed change, some of the Fuld's private multimillion-dollar art collection sold through Christie's.

A man who answered the telephone at the Fuld's Florida home declined to comment and abruptly hung up.

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