Paul Newman’s Daughters Sue Newman’s Own Foundation

by Chris Piner

While most people tend to stick with one career throughout their lives, for Paul Newman, the sky even appeared too low for him as he was a director, philanthropist, businessman, and race car driver. And what is even more astonishing than holding so many titles, he excelled in all of them. Not to mention, he was a father and husband. Born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Newman accumulated more than monetary success as he received an Academy Award, three Golden Globes, a Primetime Emmy, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. With such a legacy left behind when he passed away at 83, it seems that two of his six children are suing his own foundation. 

Filing the lawsuit with the Stamford Superior Court on Tuesday, both Elinor Newman and Susan Newman accused the foundation of freezing their charitable giving. The sisters claimed that Paul Newman’s legacy was “under assault, ironically, by Newman’s Own Foundation, the very organization he founded in an effort to preserve and expand that legacy.”

The lawsuit only referred to Elinor and Susan Newman, not his three other daughters. Still, the lawsuit stated, “The heart of Mr. Newman’s estate planning was to keep his children involved in philanthropy, specifically by requiring Newman’s Own Foundation to allocate a certain amount of its millions of dollars of annual donations to charities identified by his daughters. But mere days after his death, those Mr. Newman had entrusted with the stewardship of his legacy turned on him, made thinly-veiled threats of disinheritance to his daughters, and leveraged their control over his estate to set the stage for disenfranchisement of his family.”

Paul Newman’s Daughter Seeking Over $1 Million In Damages

According to the lawsuit, the Newman’s Own Foundation allocated them each $400,000 a year for charitable donations to charities of their choosing. In 2020, that allowance changed as the foundation started to give them only $200,000 each. 

With both Elinor and Susan Newman seeking a staggering $1.6 million in damages, the lawsuit added, “The ‘Daughters’ Foundation’ program was a check on Newman’s Own Foundation’s ability to stray too far from Mr. Newman’s priorities for philanthropy. At least a portion of donations was required to be directed each year by his daughters, in whom he had diligently instilled his frugal and benevolent charitable sensibilities. Over the years, however, Newman’s Own Foundation lost its way and strayed from its mission to preserve and honor Newman’s legacy. The years since Mr. Newman’s death consist of a long and consistent pattern of disregard, by those in control, of Mr. Newman’s specific intentions and direction, coupled with mismanagement, scandal, and questionable practices.”

Releasing a statement to The Wall Street Journal, a spokesperson for Newman’s Own Foundation noted that the lawsuit from Elinor and Susan Newman was “meritless.”