The private life of one of Australia’s richest families has been laid bare in an explosive court case in the Supreme Court of Western Australia yesterday.
Michael Wright died in 2012 aged 74 with an estimated wealth of $1.5 billion.
His father, Peter Wright, made his fortune as the business partner of the late Lang Hancock exploring the Pilbara.
Michael Wright worked for the family business and then bought a Margaret River winery, Voyager Estate, in 1991, despite being a teetotaller.
After Peter Wright’s death, Michael Wright inherited a $900 million fortune along with his sister, Angela Bennett.
Then in 2010, he and Bennett received $1 billion from mining magnate Gina Rinehart after she was legally forced to give up 25% of the Rhodes Ridges iron ore mine.
Wright married four times and was known to have three children but now university student Olivia Mead has emerged as Wright’s “secret” daughter.
Mead is suing the executor of Wright’s will and his two other daughters Alexandra Burt and Leonie Baldock.
It appears Wright’s son, Myles Wright, was cut from his father’s estate.
Mead is claiming the $3 million trust set up for her by Wright is unfair.
Fairfax reports her list of demands include a $2.5 million home, a $250,000 diamond studded bass guitar, $10,000 a year to spend on accessories and shoes and an axolotl (Mexican walking fish).
Mead said she wanted to have four children, a $100,000 wedding and to buy a “cosy” two-storey home in South Fremantle.
Mead told the court yesterday she first met her father when she was nine months old, but their relationship was “sporadic”.
“Overall, I did not have a close relationship with dad,” she said in an affidavit read in court.
Giving evidence, Burt told the court Wright had once told her he would “remove” her from his estate because if you were “out of the family” you were “out of the business”.
Fairfax reports Burt was asked if business was more important to her father than family, to which she said, “Sometimes yes.”
Burt said Wright could be “brutal” and family meetings often required formal agendas and note-taking.
She told the court Wright was a business orientated individual who wanted his children to study “traditional” degrees such as accounting, law or commerce that allowed them to become professionals.
The case continues today.