Hills are alive to Trapp family row

The family inspired the film The Sound of Music, but 60 years after they escaped the Nazi takeover of Austria, the Von Trapps are no longer singing from the same hymn sheet.

Instead, the cosy clan celebrated on screen for its exemplary family values is involved in a most unharmonious struggle for control of the family business, an Austrian-style lodge at Stowe, in the hills of Vermont.

Lawyers representing two branches of the family appeared before the Vermont Supreme Court this week to argue whether one branch shortchanged the other by $3m (pounds 1.9m). "It's sad," said Johannes von Trapp, youngest child of Maria von Trapp. "It wouldn't have happened while my mother was alive." The convent girl who Climbed Every Mountain when she was played by Julie Andrews died in 1987.

Tension blew up between the descendants of the entertainers from the Alps in 1993 after family members ousted Johannes von Trapp as president of the corporation running the Trapp Family Lodge. He then regained control of the company the following year, after which his sister and some of his brother's children objected and cashed in their shares, receiving $2.5m from the business. However, they later challenged the payment in court, saying they were due roughly twice as much and in May a County Superior Court ordered Trapp Family Lodge Inc to pay the higher value, about $3m.

Johannes von Trapp's lawyers have now appealed. But if the Supreme Court upholds the award, Johannes von Trapp says he may have to sell the lodge, which comes with restaurants and more than 2,000 acres.

The Von Trapp family fled Austria in 1938, eventually settling in the hills above Stowe. The first lodge burned down in 1980 but was rebuilt as a hotel with cottages and time-share units. Drawn no doubt by curiosity fuelled by the continuing popularity of the famous film, the lodge has about 150,000 visitors each year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'