One of the heirs to the Marriott hotel fortune claims his dad forced him out of the business and then cut him out of the family’s nearly $3 billion trust — just because he divorced his wife Angela. John Marriott III said that his father, Bill Marriott, forced him out of the hotel empire and then cut him out of the family’s $3 billion trust, when he divorced his wife in 2015 against his dad’s wishes. Bill Marriott also disowned his son, setting him on the path to financial ruin, according to the lawsuit filed by John in a Washington, DC court.
John also sued his uncle Richard because he and Bill, his brother, share control of the $2.8 billion trust established by John’s grandparents J. Willard and Alice Marriott, the founders of the hotel chain. The Marriott family are devout Mormons and strongly disapprove of divorce.
“To sue my dad and my uncle is the last thing I want to do, and the last thing I ever expected to do,” said the 56-year-old former Marriott executive.
Bill Marriott, 85, the hotel company’s executive chairman, “has tried to take away everything that I’ve earned and everything that my grandparents left for me,” John said.
The suit’s major claim is that his father and uncle breached their fiduciary duties by denying John his rightful share of the family fortune. His only crime, he told The Washingtonian, was “not maintaining the image of the perfect Mormon family.”
The punishment may seem harsh for a third-generation hotelier who started in the family business as a 15-year-old dishwasher. He climbed the corporate ladder to executive VP before exiting in 2006, one year after he sensed his father no longer thought him worthy of the top job.
The family trust, JWM Family Enterprises, owns 24.2 million shares of Marriott International and are worth about $2.7 billion. Chairman Bill has an additional 15.4 million shares, worth about $1.8 billion.
A spokesman for Bill and Richard Marriott told The Washingtonian that the brothers hadn’t yet read the complaint. When they do, they’ll see some dramatic admissions from John, who says that he contemplated suicide at age 11 and has long struggled with substance abuse.
Reference: The New York Post (October 31, 2017) “Marriott heir sues dad for booting him from family trust over divorce”