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Sinatra Saturday, 16 May, 1998, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Family battle over Sinatra's millions
Tina Sinatra
Tina Sinatra, fighting for control of the fortune, arrives at the Sinatra estate
Frank Sinatra's family are battling over a multi-million dollar showbusiness empire following the 82-year-old singer's death.

Frank Sinatra Jr
Frank Jr supports Tina's battle
Sinatra's three children by his first wife - Tina, Frank Jr and Nancy - are pitted against his fourth wife, former showgirl Barbara, over his estimated fortune of $200m (124m).

There have already been skirmishes between Tina and Mrs Sinatra over the merchandising of his name on ties, pasta sauce, Californian sauce, "singing" porcelain souvenir plates (embedded with a computer chip carrying his voice) and many other products said to be of questionable taste.

I am Frank Sinatra - Tina

Last year Tina took over as chief executive of Sheffield Enterprises Inc, formed by Sinatra to license his name and likeness. She called herself "keeper of the Sinatra flame" and on occasions even declared: "I am Frank Sinatra."

But Barbara, 71, and her son Richard, 47, oppose the merchandising blitz.

Tina and her two siblings own Reprise Records, which controls the rights to all Sinatra's recordings made between 1960 and 1988.

They accused Barbara Sinatra of holding their father "hostage". Mrs Sinatra, who was once married to Zeppo of the Marx Brothers, dismissed these allegations as "sheer nonsense".

Barbara and Frank
Barbara Sinatra, pictured at Frank's 80th birthday, is fighting the children
To add fuel to the fire, Frank decided he wanted to adopt Robert Marx, his wife's son by a previous relationship. But the furious opposition from his own three children scotched that idea.

Robert was a formidable ally for his mother in her own lucrative business dealings involving her husband. She was making a fortune from a contract her husband signed in 1993 with Capitol Records giving her royalties of 20% on sales.

Row over record rights

Mrs Sinatra also began to manage reissues of early Sinatra music, particularly from the 1940s, when he ruled the airwaves with the Tommy Dorsey Band.

This caused further trouble because although the children did not have sole rights over any pre-1960 songs, they believed they had a moral claim.

Feelings boiled over when the children threatened to sue Mrs Sinatra over a record released to commemorate his 80th birthday.

In the event, legal action did not take place, but the threat further worsened family relations.

Strict control

The feud then opened up on yet another front. A huge row erupted over the commemorative Sinatra tie. Mrs Sinatra wanted the image on it to be that of an elderly Sinatra. But Tina was said to have been infuriated by the idea.

Tina won the battle and the tie appeared with an image of Sinatra from the 1960s. But sales of the tie were reported to have been "pitiful". The children blamed Mrs Sinatra for this failure.

Family enmities surfaced only when Sinatra became too weak by ill health and age to maintain his previous control.

Now he is gone, the lawyers will try to sort out the impending clash over the Sinatra spoils. Some say the real war is only just beginning.

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