’90s Icon Anna Nicole Smith Never Actually Received Any of Her Late Husband’s $1.6 Billion Fortune

Anna Nicole Smith is one of the biggest pop culture icons of the past few decades, a blonde bombshell who rose to fame as a fashion model before transitioning to a career in reality television. Smith’s life in the spotlight was full of controversy, from rumors of drug abuse and multiple love affairs to legal drama.

Through it all, fans retained their love for Smith, calling out her authenticity and a genuine sense of humor. The drama surrounding Smith began in 1994 when she married a much-older billionaire—and ultimately, the short-lived, headline-making marriage would cause a tidal wave of legal problems that would last until well after Smith’s untimely death

When did Anna Nicole Smith meet J. Howard Marshall?

Anna Nicole Smith smiling in red lipstick
Anna Nicole Smith | Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

Smith was born in Houston, Texas, in 1967. Raised primarily by her mother, Smith dropped out of high school in order to start earning an income for herself and to take care of her young son, who was born in 1986.

Beginning in the early ’90s, Smith started earning some slight acclaim as a model, appearing in ad campaigns for brands like Guess. Things changed for Smith in 1992 when she was chosen as the Playboy Playmate of the Month in May of that year. 

In 1991, Smith met billionaire J. Howard Marshall. The two crossed paths in a Houston strip club, when Smith was working the day shift. Smith and Marshall established a connection, and, according to Interview Magazine, Marshall, who was 86 when they met, asked Smith to stop working so that he could take care of her. The report notes that Marshall fell hard for Smith, lavishing her with expensive gifts before asking the young model to marry him in 1994. 

In June 1994, Smith and Marshall got married at Houston’s White Dove Wedding Chapel. Smith, whose star was rising in the entertainment industry, was slammed by the tabloid press, with many critics accusing her of marrying Marshall for his money. Smith, however, always maintained that she loved Marshall and that the massive age gap between the two didn’t matter to her.

The marriage would ultimately prove to be short-lived, with Marshall passing away at the age of 90 in August 1995. After Marshall’s death, a lengthy court battle ensued due to the fact that Smith was not included in Marshall’s will. Smith claimed that Marshall had promised her half of his estate, which, according to NBC News, consisted primarily of his 16% interest in Koch Industries. Smith’s bid noted that she was due around $44 million. Marshall’s son, E. Pierce Marshall, contested Smith’s claim, and the resulting legal battle made headlines for years. 

Did Anna Nicole Smith ever receive any of J. Howard Marshall’s fortune?

The legal battle between Smith and the estate of Marshall continued for years, with Marshall’s other son, J. Howard Marshall III, joining Smith’s camp, claiming that he had also verbally been promised a portion of his late father’s estate. Ultimately, the battle in court would outlive both Smith, who died of an alleged accidental drug overdose in 2007, according to Today, and E. Pierce Marshall, who died the previous year from an infection. 

In the end, all courts involved would overturn Smith’s attempts to obtain money from Marshall’s estate. The latest unsuccessful attempt took place in 2014, according to Forbes, when a federal judge dismissed Smith’s former partner Larry Birkhead’s efforts to collect tens of millions of dollars from the Marshall estate on behalf of Smith’s young daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead. For fans of Smith, the legal drama is just one part of a life that was both full of drama and full of inspiration.

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