Multinational book publisher Scholastic Corporation has been pushed into a succession crisis, after the sudden death of its owner Richard Robinson, who left his company to an lover instead of his family.
In a 2018 succession plan, Robinson named Scholastic’s chief strategy officer Iole Lucchese as his heir, according to a report published on Monday by the Wall Street Journal.
Robinson died on 5 June, leaving two sons, an ex-wife and a century-old company that has published some of the most well-known book series such as Harry Potter, The Magic School Bus and The Hunger Games among others.
Ms Lucchese, whose relationship with Robinson was an “open secret” according to the newspaper, was described as “my partner and closest friend” in the will.
However, Robinson’s decision to overlook his sons and other family members and bequeath all his personal belongings to Ms Lucchese has triggered a succession crisis. Several family members unhappy with the will are reportedly reviewing legal options.
Maurice “Reece” Robinson, 25, Richard Robinson’s youngest son, told WSJ that his father’s decision to give control of his personal effects to Ms Lucchese was “unexpected and shocking”.
“What I want most is an amicable outcome,” he told the newspaper.
His eldest son, John Benham “Ben” Robinson, 34, said the succession plans “served as salt in an open wound”. Helen Benham, who was married to Robinson between 1986 and 2003 and worked for Scholastic for three decades, said they had became good friends again during the coronavirus pandemic.
She told the newspaper that while she worked with the publishing company, she “lived and breathed Scholastic while also raising our two children.”
“Dick told me on more than one occasion, ‘You care more about Scholastic than I do,’” she said.
Robinson died suddenly on 5 June during a walk in Martha’s Vineyard, Dukes county, Massachusetts at the age of 84. He was believed to be healthy and without any serious illness.
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