Home » The Business of Writing » Crime Writer Patricia Cornwell Has Her Own Legal Drama

Crime Writer Patricia Cornwell Has Her Own Legal Drama

13 January 2013

From ABC News:

Fiction crime-writer Patricia Cornwell is used to writing about a heroic medical examiner investigating complex mysteries, but now she is in the middle of a drama of her own, claiming her former financial management firm cost her tens of millions of dollars in lost money over four years.

Cornwell, 56, and her partner, Staci Gruber, a neuroscientist at Harvard University, have lived in the Boston area for the last six years. In October 2009, she filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against her former accounting firm and business manager, Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP and its former principal, Evan Snapper.

A jury continued to hear the case on Thursday.

. . . .

She’s suing for negligent performance of professional services, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, equitable forfeiture, and other actions.

“This case is, at its core, about trust,” her lawyer, Joan Lukey of Ropes and Gray, said in her opening statement Monday, as reported by the Boston Globe.

“There is no amount of money that is enough to properly compensate her for what Anchin, Block & Anchin did,” Lukey said in the courtroom.

. . . .

Cornwell alleges she was charged far more than the $40,000-a-month rate she thought she would be paying the company for management of her money and the assets of her company, Cornwell Entertainment Inc., as first reported by the Globe.

“Ms. Cornwell is a best-selling crime novelist whose ability to write is dependent upon the ability to avoid distractions,” her complaint states. “A quiet, uninterrupted environment, free of the distractions of managing her business and her assets, including her investments, is essential to her ability to write and to meet her deadlines.”

Her lawsuit also says that she “openly acknowledges her diagnosis with a mood disorder known as bipolar disorder, which, although controlled without medication, has contributed to her belief that it is prudent for her to employ others to manage her business affairs and her investments.”

She said she learned the extent of her investment losses in 2009, alleging Anchin selected investments without input from her or her partner.

“Notwithstanding eight figure earnings per year during that period, CEI and Ms. Cornwell learned that their net worth, while substantial, was the equivalent of only approximately one year’s net income,” the suit says.

Link to the rest at ABC News

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12 Comments to “Crime Writer Patricia Cornwell Has Her Own Legal Drama”

  1. “the extent of her investment losses in 2009, alleging Anchin selected investments without input from her or her partner.”

    P.G.

    What’s this, bemoaning that her outfit gambled on the wrong stock?

    Or they flat out nicked her dough?

    Anyone who spends *any* time looking at the history of financial gurus would take a somewhat jaundiced view of them, IMO.

    Those who invest owe it to themselves to keep an eye on where things are going and to understand that things go up as well as down.

    I could do a lot of research for $40K a month, mind.

    brendan (cashed out in 2004/5, have been investing mildly, carefully since summer 2012.)

    • Trust managers, banks, financial managers, all look to themselves and their own financial rewards first, unfortunately. They make money by churning, i.e., selling and buying over and over and charging a fee each time. Rarely do they invest for the long haul. I was furious as a library director when the huge donation I received for the library’s benefit was frittered away by the bank despite my admonition at the beginning they were to protect the original capital – I wanted to use only the interest. At that time long-term CDs were paying 8%. (By law the money had to be invested by our foundation which turned it over to the bank.) After 5 years, the cash value had dropped by 20% as they continued to buy and sell. I suspect it happens all the time.

      I managed my father’s trust, protected all of it, it made a little money, not a lot, but I saw how easy it would have been for someone to rip it off. I took nothing for my management. Finding someone you can trust has become very, very difficult.

      That $40K they got should have bought her some security.

  2. Another bit of fodder for those writers still seeking the fantasy of a world where they “can just write.”

  3. I would say that the vast majority of people who have been ripped off by a financial advisor do exactly what Cornwell did: They hand a bunch of money over to someone and say, “Here, you look after this–I don’t know anything about it. You do what you want. I don’t want to know.” Stuff like that is basically promising zero oversight, which is a very bad idea

  4. I don’t have a comment, however, one of my people will stop by later to write one. Now, I really must get back to work, darlings.

  5. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that this lawsuit is the ongoing story of an article I read a couple of years ago, wherein Cornwell had discovered that it turned out to be a Very Expensive Mistake to give her financial manager control of her checkbook, since it turned out–SHOCKINGLY!–that he has used his unmonitored, unfettered access to her millions to rob her.

    In any case, reading this article about the tens of millions of dollars lost or squandered, and about the $40K =per month= she was paying someone ELSE to handle her money (i.e. close to half a million $ per year)… I am reminded of Warren Buffett’s advise on managing and investing money, which goes something like, “Put it all in index funds, then get back to work.”

  6. If you just want to write and not be bothered by other stuff, then go for it. But you can’t keep whet you earn by ignoring it.

  7. From the upset about her using information she found in a case on her job as the basis for an early book, to the estranged husband of a love interest being arrested for the attempted murder of his wife, to this, Cornwell is not involved with ordinary legal cases.

  8. “A quiet, uninterrupted environment, free of the distractions of managing her business and her assets, including her investments, is essential to her ability to write and to meet her deadlines.”

    Substitute “assets and investments” for “survival” and I would say the same about my own writing preferences. Yet, I am still able to produce. What’s her excuse? Look at this river I’m crying.

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