An embattled icon, the co-creator of X-Men, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, and Black Panther, Stan Lee is now the apparent victim of gross financial misconduct by an assortment of sordid individuals, based on an article by The Daily Beast (as well as The Daily Mail and TMZ). Lee is 95 years old and after his wife of 70 years died in 2017, Lee was reported to be swindled out of millions of dollars, but no one yet seems to know how high the amount may get. Currently, there are forensic accountants trying to retrace all of Lee’s finances.
“When [Stan’s] wife passed away,” said Keya Morgan to The Daily Beast, a friend that allegedly promised Stan’s wife that he would take care of Stan, “within a day, I saw all the vultures, snakes, leeches, jackals and coyotes all circle around Stan to grab a piece of his flesh. When you’re at your weakest, somebody kicks you – especially when you’re a 95-year-old man… I have a clean conscience. I’ve done nothing but help him. Whoever has been scamming him should be held responsible. No one else dares to get close to the police, and the reason is they all have a lot of things to hide.”
A Cast of Villains
Starting with Lee’s business partner, Jerry Olivarez, who had power of attorney over Lee's accounts at some point and is reported to have 45 liens and 15 judgments against him. Olivarez started a sham charity, Hands of Respect, under the guise of combating racism, yet "red flags started to go up everywhere. You can't even name one charity you're giving money to?" asked Jonathan Bourne, a TV writer that questioned the charity. Allegedly, Olivarez forged Lee's signature on a $300,000 check to contribute to Hands of Respect. Olivarez also had Lee purchase a $850,000 condo for him (for conflicting reasons per individuals interviewed in The Daily Beast report). Olivarez’s website describes himself as “one of the most successful and admired celebrity publicists.”
There’s Lee’s former bodyguard, Mac Anderson. He spent a year in jail after beating his wife and was later given 36 months probation for abusing his son. Anderson allegedly threatened Lee and his daughter and also tried to blackmail Lee’s nurses to make false statements about Lee’s daughter in what may have been an extortion scheme.
There’s the mysterious loss of $1,400,000, which no one seems to know where it went. Apparently, someone transferred $6 million out of Lee’s UBS account to Merrill Lynch and later transferred back to UBS for $4.6 million. The $1.4 million was never accounted for. “They are just so easily conned,” Morgan said of Stan Lee and his daughter.
Lee himself is embroiled in accusations of sexual impropriety against his private nurses, including groping and making sexual demands.
It’s an incredibly sad ending to a what always looked like a storybook life.
I’m often asked whether entertainers and musicians face the same problems with fraud as athletes. The answer is a resounding “YES.” I will refer them to blog posts I wrote about the frauds against Johnny Depp and Alyssa Milano. I’ll tell them that many entertainers face the exact same position as athletes that make them targets of fraud: they’re inexperienced in business and finance and are told to focus on their craft while letting the professionals handle their financial affairs. What they’re not told is there are no checks and balances in place to ensure that these financial professionals don’t get caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
The risk of fraud drastically increases in the case where an elderly person, like Lee, shows a vulnerability to elder fraud. Risk factors of elder abuse include dementia and other declining mental facilities, dependency, physical disabilities, depression and other mental health issues, to name a few. Lee’s wife may have been the one to keep the ship (relatively) afloat, but once she was gone, Lee’s been dragged down by the sharks.
The Case for BrightLights
It’s hard to read stories (albeit in this case, allegations) which have so many red flags of fraud that were not identified. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it’s hard to believe that Lee trusted a convicted wife and child beater as his bodyguard, signed power of attorney to a slickster wearing monogrammed shirts and “gold everything,” had a $300,000 check forged, bought a condo for someone, and unknowingly lost $1.4 million dollars to the ether.
I get frustrated because the answer to Lee’s problems seem obvious. Don’t wait until you have to pay forensic accountants and lawyers tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars to clean up your financial mess. Proactively hire an unbiased third-party like BrightLights protect you from the beginning by constantly monitoring your accounts for fraud. BrightLights does not have access or ability to move funds in your accounts; instead, BrightLights is only reviewing your account statements and supporting documentation to ensure you’re protected.
Wouldn’t it have made sense for Lee to pay someone like BrightLights to ensure we never got to this point?
I tell clients and prospects all the time that my service not only monitors what’s going on in their accounts to identify and stop wrongdoing, but the oversight acts as a deterrent to anyone handling your money. When you tell someone that a former financial regulator is acting as a third-party advocate to monitor your finances, do you think they’re going to be more or less willing to take advantage of you? Don’t you think they’ll just move on to someone who has no protection?
I continue to preach my message because so many people (including the elderly, musicians, and entertainers) don’t even know a service like this exists. If you know anyone who might be in a high-risk situation of financial fraud by others, please share this article with them or have them reach out to me. Enough is enough.