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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Minnelli's husband denies 'abuse' claim
David Gest is Liza Minnelli's fourth husband
David Gest is Liza Minnelli's fourth husband
The new husband of singer Liza Minnelli has hit back at claims that she has abused her stepmother by selling the 94-year-old's home.

Lee Minnelli is suing the Oscar-winner, claiming abuse of the elderly and breach of contract.

The singer married David Gest in a lavish ceremony last month and they are currently in London at the start of her European tour.

Gest said that far from abusing Lee Minnelli, Liza had for years kept her stepmother rent free in a house in Beverly Hills and had offered to buy her an apartment when she sold the house.

Minnelli opened her European tour in London
Minnelli opened her European tour in London
He said in a statement: "Liza Minnelli has sold her home in Beverly Hills where Lee Minnelli has lived for many years, during which time Liza has paid for all of Lee's expenses, including housekeeper, gardener etc.

"In addition, Liza has offered to buy Lee a condominium, but apparently her generous offer has been refused. (The matter) is now in the hands of attorneys."

Liza is quoted in an interview with the trande newspaper Daily Variety as saying she had tried to persuade her stepmother to move.

She said: "I've been supporting her forever.

"I am willing to give her a happy life."

Tony Bennett was among the stars at Minnelli's concert
Tony Bennett was among the stars at Minnelli's concert
Lee Minnelli filed the lawsuit claiming that she was kept "alone in a dark house" while Liza and Gest were on their recent honeymoon.

Lee Minnelli said the will of her late husband and Liza's father Vincent guaranteed her housing - but that Liza recently sold her house and wanted to remove her "by whatever means necessary".

"While the defendant is honeymooning all over the world, having fed 850 of her closest friends a 12ft cake, the plaintiff is alone in a cold, dark house, at age 94," the lawsuit said.

The 94-year-old said the singer had fired the gardener and the pool attendant and that "the pool is an unhealthful [sic] swamp and has become an insect breeding pool".

Minnelli has suffered from health problems in the past
Minnelli has suffered from health problems in the past
The neglect to the home's interior and exterior, she alleged, "has caused [her] extreme stress, humiliation, embarrassment and worry".

Minnelli was born after a short-lived marriage between Vincent Minnelli and actress Judy Garland.

She emerged from the shadow of her mother in 1972 with a show-stopping performance in the hit musical Cabaret, which earned her an Academy Award.

Now 56, she has battled back from poor health, and Michael Jackson and Dame Elizabeth Taylor were among those who saw her marry Gest in New York on 17 March.

The pair honeymooned in London, where Minnelli was the victim of an attempted robbery as thieves tried to steal a £10,000 diamond necklace from her while she was in a car.

See also:

17 Mar 02 | Americas
Minnelli weds for fourth time
17 Mar 02 | Americas
In pictures: Stars turn out for Liza
15 Mar 02 | Showbiz
Minnelli's turbulent times
31 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Minnelli leaves hospital
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