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The BBC's Philippa Thomas
"For now, Anna Nicole Smith has much to smile about"
 real 56k

Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 05:25 GMT 06:25 UK
Ex-Playmate shares tycoon's estate
Anna Nicole Smith with her lawyer outside court
Anna Nicole Smith with her lawyer outside court
By Peter Bowes in Los Angeles

A judge in the United States has awarded a former Playboy model, Anna Nicole Smith, $449m after she was left out of the will of her 90-year-old husband.

Ms Smith was 26 when she married a Texan oil tycoon J Howard Marshall, who died after 14 months of marriage.

Anna and J Howard Marshall
Happy days: Anna with her husband, 63 years her senior
They met at a strip club in Texas, where Ms Smith was working. Despite a 63-year age difference, they married a few years later.

She said her husband had promised her half his fortune - estimated to be $1.6bn - but when he died, her name was not in his will.

Bankrupt

She went to court, saying changes had been made to the will illegally three weeks after their marriage, which gave control of her husband's estate to his 60-year-old son Pierce.

As a result, Ms Smith claimed she was penniless and had been forced into bankruptcy.

A federal bankruptcy judge in Los Angeles said he was awarding the model $449m in damages.

But he added that the amount could change depending on possible punitive damages to be awarded at a later date and the outcome of a separate court case starting on Thursday in Texas.

During that hearing, members of Mr Marshall's family are expected to argue that Ms Smith has already profited from her brief marriage.

She is said to have received gifts, jewellery and several houses, worth $8m.

Reacting to the ruling of the California court, Ms Smith's lawyer said his client was was extremely happy.

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