Fighting Over a Final Wish
9/28/2012 (Updated 10/1/2012 8:58:33 AM)(Source: Jason Weinstein)
Endicott native John McLaughlin moved to California as a young man and made millions dealing in comic books and other memorabilia. But when he became sick with stage-four lung cancer, he returned to his childhood home on Lincoln Ave in Endicott, where he died on June 30th, 2005.
"He was a world-class collector. Supposedly one of the best private collections in the entire United States. One of the top 10," said Nina Savino.
Nina Savino was a long-time employee of McLaughlin's. She was named co-executor of his estate before members of McLaughlin's family, including his ex-wife Lilly had her successfully removed in 2006. She says McLaughlin wanted to have the bulk of his estate go to the Endicott Visitors Center.
"That was his first wish, to help Endicott," said Lilly McLaughlin.
Joining Savino is an unlikely ally - McLaughlin's ex-wife Lilly, the same person who was part of the group which had Savino removed as executor. Lilly, who was married to John for 22 years, says John wanted his collectibles, which included rare comics and movie memorabilia from classics such as King Kong, to be put on display at a number of venues, including the Visitors Center.
Lilly McLaughlin valued her ex-husband's estate at $17 million at the time of his death.
A notarized letter from former Endicott Mayor Joan Hickey Pulse - a childhood friend of McLaughlin's - describes an October 2004 meeting she had with John McLaughlin at the Visitors Center. Pulse writes they discussed enlarging a room at the facility so that it would be large enough to be the site for the McLaughlin Museum.
So why didn't that museum become a reality after McLaughlin's death? You can look at John McLaughlin's will, signed on June 23, 2005 - one week before his death. The will states, "My executor is instructed to establish an organization for the purposes of displaying the collectibles."
But nowhere does it mention the Endicott Visitors Center. Another article of the will gives the executor the right to sell with or without notice any property the executor considers necessary.
McLaughlin's two sons are heirs-at-law of his estate. As for the clause in McLaughlin's will calling for the establishment of a foundation to display his collectibles?
McLaughlin's beneficiaries and the New York Attorney General's office designated the Binghamton University Foundation to receive about half-a-million dollars of McLaughlin's memorabilia. BU's Director of Libraries says he's promised the family it would be put on exhibition.
Some of McLaughlin's other items are part of an on-line auction through Heritage Auction House in Dallas. The attorney for current executor, Judge John Thomas, says most of the property has been delivered to McLaughlin's beneficiaries.
Savino, knowing most of the estate has been disbursed, would at least like to build a virtual version of the McLaughlin Museum.
"I would like at least somebody to know who John McLaughlin was. I'd like when you google his name you come up with some of his amazing, beautiful things," said Savino.
****In Endicott, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News.****
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