Monday, October 31, 2016

The S. Tate Estate

When Sharon Tate was murdered on the night of August 8-9, 1969 she not only died a horrific death but she also died intestate, meaning that she died leaving no will. In an effort to remove his daughter’s estate from legal limbo  and begin the process of property distribution Tate’s father Paul Tate filed a Petition For Letters of Authorization with the Los Angeles Superior Court on December 8, 1969:

The breakdown of Tate’s financial situation is interesting. She possessed cash in the amount of $37,000 ($230,920.92 in 2016 dollars), motor vehicles worth $5,700 ($35,383.04 today), personal property worth $500 ($3,101.78) and an annual salary of $2,000 ($12,415.10), for a grand total worth of $45,400 ($281,822.84). (I found this surprising because I would have thought that she was worth a lot more. Especially in this age of astronomical salaries for entertainment figures the $2,000 ($12,415) annual salary for her work in television and movies seems a pittance.)

The main purpose of the Petition For Letters Of Authorization was so that Tate’s estate could be evaluated for distribution to deserving next-of-kin and others. One person who didn’t want any part of the late actress’ worth, however, was her widowered husband Roman Polanski. Both privately and in a letter dated February 1, 1970 Polanski made it clear to Paul Tate that he wanted no part of the estate of his late daughter. 

Not everyone, however, was content to let tragedy recede. Within a month of the murders, 10050 Cielo Drive owner Rudi Altobelli had resumed residence in the main house. On April 13, 1970 he filed a claim with the Superior Court of Los Angeles for monetary damages against the estate of Sharon Tate on the basis that Tate had not purchased $125,000 of public liability and property damage insurance as required by the lease agreement between the Polanskis and Altobelli. For this offense Altobelli requested relief for damages in the amount of $15,000 ($93,113.27 in 2016). A further claim was made due to the fact that the original lease stated that the premises could only be used as a single-family residence and that the presence of Frykowski and Folger on the property as full-time residents violated that portion of the lease and damaged him in the sum of “at least $30,000” ($186,226.65 today).

But Altobelli’s ex post facto irritation at the presence of Frykowski and Folger at his house seems opportunistic, because he almost certainly knew that the pair had been residing in his house almost as long as the Polanskis and therefore had would have had numerous opportunities to broach the subject with the latter if he had had real concerns about the situation. 

The Polanskis rented the house in early February 1969 but went to Europe in March. Voytek Frykowski and Abigail Folger were already living in the house at that time. At the time of the murders Altobelli must have known about the living situation in his house because he knew that Roman Polanski was already in Europe, and he obviously knew Sharon was on her way to Europe because she was seated next to him on the airplane when he himself went. And when Altobelli recounted to Vincent Bugliosi Charles Manson’s appearance at Cielo Drive on March 23, 1969 he recalled that Sharon, Jay Sebring, Frykowski, and Folger (whom he referred to familiarly as “Gibby”) were all present in the main house. (Altobelli and Sharon Tate flew to Europe the next day. He was still in Europe when the murders occurred. Sharon, very unfortunately, returned to Los Angeles and the Cielo Drive house on July 21.)

Altobelli lived in house for another twenty years after the murders, apparently unfazed by the slaughter that had occurred there. “It is a home,” he said during the murder trial. “It’s not going to be a tourist attraction or a freak show.”  Years later he recalled, “"I moved right back into the house three weeks after the murders happened. When I came back to that property, I felt safe, secure, loved and beauty." Eventually he was also likely unfazed by any financial damages he night have incurred due to Sharon Tate’s not obtaining public liability insurance and the presence of Voytek Frykowski and Abigail Folger as illegal house residents: Altobelli sold the house in 1989 for $1.6 million, 18 times what he paid for it ($86,000) in the early 1960s.  He died in Los Angeles on March 26, 2011.


Trilby said...
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grimtraveller said...

George Stimson said...

She possessed......personal property worth $500 ($3,101.78) and an annual salary of $2,000

Blimey ! Tex snagged three times that amount in 5 days with the Lotsapoppa and Melton capers.....

Manson Mythos said...

Jeramie Rain who played "Sadie" in Wes Craven's obviously Manson-inspired Last House on the Left lived at the house with actor John Savage in the 70s and she told me that Altobelli used to call it "The Tate Murder Mansion".

BourneCO said...
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David said...

It would be interesting to see what a homeowner's insurance policy back in 1969 and the lease actually said.

As I understand it typically, 'crime scene clean-up' today is covered if at all (or excluded) under a bio-hazard clause. I wonder if such a clause was included in policies in 1969. If not then Mr. Altobelli didn't have much of a claim under such a policy or against the estate.

Without coverage the fact they didn't have a policy becomes irrelevant. If they had one and it wasn't covered the outcome is the same as not having a policy: $0. He'd have to prove it would have been covered.

If it wasn't covered he would have to prove Sharon et al were negligent or somehow otherwise responsible for their own murders, otherwise this cost typically falls on the landlord unless the lease specifically shifted crime scene clean-up to the victims, which is highly unlikely.

I doubt he could prove $15,000 worth of damages.

I also have to question where/how he actually thought he could claim $30,000 for Voytek and Abigail being present April-August. First, he knew they were there- which makes them tenants by sufferance. Second his damages have to relate to something he actually lost. Since the rent was paid (I assume) April-August he'd have to somehow prove the rent would have been about $7,000 a month higher due to their presence otherwise I have a very hard time figuring out where he even has a claim.

I could see Altobelli feeling that Polanski should share or even cover the cost but that second claim.......I think that's were you see Mr. Altobelli's true colors.

Mr. Stimson do you know if the estate actually paid his claim?

George Stimson said...

Sorry Dreath, these are the only docs I have. I don't know the final outcome of Altobelli's filing.

Patty is Dead said...

Deb got an email from Bobby Beausoleil's website. He is giving away all his music for free in the form of downloads for a limited time if you are so inclined.

DebS said...

Thanks Patty, I was going to mention that but forgot!

DebS said...

I was looking through the newspaper archives to see if there was an answer to Dreath's question to George. There was nothing mentioned in the paper about it at all.

However I did find that Rudy Altobelli filed a lawsuit against Roman Polanski and Life magazine in Nov. 1969. It was a short article from the LA Times, Nov. 21, 1969, as follows-

"The owner of the estate where actress Sharon Tate and four others were slain Aug.9 filed an $848,000 Superior Court suit against Miss Tate's husband Roman Polanski and Life magazine. Rudolph Altobelli, the owner, said photographs in the magazine- including on of Polanski sitting in front of the door on which "Pig" had been scrawled in blood- hurt his chances to rent the estate. Altobelli claimed Polanski illegally gave permission to Life to photograph the home."

Presumably this suit did not have legs as there was nothing beyond this article in the LA Times.

Patty is Dead said...

No prob

David said...


No, that suit would not have legs. I have hard time identifying what his legal claim would be. Even if his lawyers could articulate some cause of action he'd have to prove it was the photos that caused the renter loss and not the fact some horrific murders happened there.

He'd also have to prove his damages with 'reasonable certainty'- lost rent. Let's see...didn't the Polanski's rent the place for something like $1200 a month? I don't remember the number but divide the image claim by $1200 and that translates to 58 years of rent.

I am of the opinion that of all those who have sought to make a dime off these murders Mr. Altobelli just filled my #1 all time ass position: sue the victims and their loved ones.

mamapoohbear16 said...

From "Restless Souls"......Rudolph Altobelli ..picked up the press's epitaph for the victims--Live Freaky, die freaky"...and decided that the victims were responsible for their own deaths. Furious about the damage done to his homes during the murders, he sent (the Tates) an enormous repair bill, insisting that blood had completely ruined his carpet, furniture, drapes, and his immaculate landscaping.

Upon receiving Altobelli's bill, P.J. Tate wrote him a letter which read, "I can't personally speak for the others, but we taught Sharon better manners than to leave a mess for someone else to clean up. I will duly reprimand her for such careless and inconsiderate bloodletting. (FYI...Paul Tate went to the house and personally scrubbed up his daughter's blood, and the blood of the other victims until there was no bloodstains left on the floors and the doors.)

Altobelli did not care for the response. In turn, he filed a suit demanding $150,000 for the damage to the house, and another $300,000 "embarrassment, humiliation, emotional and mental distress."

In the end, he received $4,350 in settlement. After his victory, Altobelli said, "This was not a personal vendetta against Sharon Tate or her family, it was just business."

Insensitive, narcissistic ass.

David said...

Thanks Mampoohbear.

However, it appears someone added a zero to the damage figures.

James said...

I can see this in a way from Altobelli's point of view. Sharon was supposed to take out a renter's insurance policy in Feb 69 and did not.Suing Sharon's estate was likely a legality, Roman was the breadwinner in their family and would have had to sue both, Roman and Sharon's estate, as they were married. The Damage to the house was $100k in 2023 dollars. He lived in the house because after the murders he could not sell it or rent it and a large chunk of his personal worth was sunk into it. He barely knew the Polanskis and probably felt he had been left holding an expensive bag. In the end he settled with Roman for something like $50000 2023 dollars. When he died in 2021 most people had nothing but good things to say about him.