Paul Newman's Daughters Sue Their Dad's Foundation

Susan Kendall Newman, Nell Newman allege Newman's Own Foundation cut contributions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 24, 2022 2:04 PM CDT
Paul Newman's Daughters Sue Their Dad's Foundation
Paul Newman sits before a spaghetti dinner made with his own spaghetti sauce, "Newman's Own Industrial Spaghetti Sauce," May 19, 1983, in New York.   (AP Photo/Carlos Perez, File)

A new lawsuit has exposed a deep rift between two of Paul Newman's daughters and the late actor's charitable foundation. The daughters, Susan Kendall Newman and Nell Newman, allege Newman's Own Foundation—which is funded by profits from the Newman's Own line of food and drink products—has improperly cut its mandated contributions to their own charities from $400,000 apiece per year to $200,000 each annually. They filed a lawsuit Tuesday in state court in Stamford, Connecticut, seeking $1.6 million in damages to be donated to their foundations for charitable giving.

The daughters say their father, who started Newman's Own Foundation three years before he died in 2008, allowed the foundation to use his name and likeness—but only on several conditions including giving each of the two daughters' foundations $400,000 a year. "This lawsuit does not seek personal compensation for Mr. Newman’s daughters, but simply seeks to hold (Newman's Own Foundation) accountable to the charities they have shortchanged in recent years and would ensure they receive an increased level of support in the future, in line with Mr. Newman’s wishes," Andy Lee, a New York City attorney for the daughters, said in a statement.

In a statement, Newman's Own Foundation suggested the reduced funding wasn't an oversight: "Best practices surrounding philanthropic organizations do not allow for the establishment of perpetual funding allotments for anyone, including Nell and Susan Newman. A meritless lawsuit based on this faulty wish would only divert money away from those who benefit from Paul Newman’s generosity." The foundation added, “While we expect to continue to solicit Newman family recommendations for worthy organizations, our funding decisions are made each year and will continue to reflect the clear aim of Paul Newman and our responsibility to the best practices governing private foundations."

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According to 2020 tax records, the foundation had more than $24 million in income and paid out $11.5 million in contributions, gifts and grants. Operating and administrative expenses totaled nearly $4.5 million. According to his daughters' lawsuit, Newman's Own Foundation wrote to them only four days after their father's death, saying it would reserve the right to stop allocating funds to charities identified by the daughters. The lawsuit says that contradicted Paul Newman's explicit instructions to the foundation.

(More Paul Newman stories.)

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