Worth Avenue empire at stake in high-profile divorce of Palm Beach couple

It's unclear if the couple will live to see their divorce finalized, leaving their holdings in question

Worth Avenue
Worth Avenue

A real estate empire is at stake in the messy divorce of Palm Beach couple Burt and Lucille Handelsman.

Burt, 88, and Lucille, 89, together own an East Coast property portfolio worth an estimated $750 million. In Palm Beach County, their properties are valued at about $160 million by the county’s property appraiser.

Lucille, known as Lovey, filed for divorce last year and since then a legal battle has unfolded within their family. Lovey claimed in a deposition that Burt was cheating on her with a Fort Lauderdale attorney who helped the Handelsmans build their family business in Palm Beach, according to the Palm Beach Post. She has accused her husband of becoming verbally abusive.

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Burt filed a lawsuit against his three adult children, claiming that they “siphoned” funds from his companies “for their personal gain” by forging their father’s signature on company checks and distributing unauthorized company payments to themselves. His children countered by saying Burt forged a document that would have barred them from controlling the properties.

Earlier this month, a judge refused to put Burt back in charge of about 25 properties his children were managing, calling the document a “sham,” according to the Palm Beach Post.

Because of their advanced ages, it’s unclear if the couple will live to see their divorce finalized, which leaves the beneficiaries of their estate in question. A monthlong trial for the terms of the divorce is scheduled for February.  [Palm Beach Post] – Katherine Kallergis