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Gay woman stakes claim to IBM fortune

March 01, 2007 11:51 IST

A gay woman, who claims she was both the daughter and 'wife' of one of the daughters of IBM founder Thomas J Watson Jr, is fighting for a share of his fortune.

According to court records, Patricia Spado was the domestic partner of IBM heiress Olive Watson for more than 10 years until 1992, when the couple split, online publication Information Week reported on Wednesday.

Before the breakup, in 1991, Watson legally adopted Spado in Maine in order to circumvent anti-gay marriage state laws and ensure that she would be financially secure.

A letter from Spado's lawyer sent to the trustees explained the couple sought the adoption "so that Patricia would become Olive's issue for the purpose of the Watson family inheritance and trusts."

At the time, Spado was 44 years old and Olive Watson was 43.

When they split, Spado received approximately $500,000 from Watson. Still, she sent a letter to the trustees in January, 2005, advising them she was Watson's legally adopted granddaughter and wanted a share of the trusts.

However, the elder Watson's 18 grandchildren are contesting Spado's claim to a share in a family trust reportedly worth millions of dollars.

In a Connecticut court they argued that Thomas Watson had earmarked the trust fund for children born to his children.

While he knew Spado as his daughter's lover, Watson had no knowledge of the adoption. The fund became active upon the death of Thomas Watson in 1993.

A Connecticut judge has ruled that Spado should not receive a share of either trust because Watson "did not intend to benefit someone who is adopted for no reason (other) than to obtain his money."

"It is reasonable to conclude that Watson intended to benefit only those grandchildren who had a typical parent-child relationship with his children," Judge David Hopper wrote.

"Spado, who was older than her adoptive mother, Olive, did not have a typical parent-child relationship." She is now appealing the ruling.

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