LOS ANGELES (AP) — Audrey Hepburn's eldest son was sued Wednesday by a charity he helped establish to continue his mother's support of children's welfare causes.
The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund sued Sean Ferrer on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging he has interfered with the charity's plans to exhibit several of the Oscar winner's high fashion dresses and other memorabilia. The exhibitions are the primary source of money for the charity, which supports children's centers in hospitals in Los Angeles and New Orleans and a facility in New Jersey.
Ferrer and his half-brother, Luca Dotti, established the fund after their mother's death along with their mother's longtime companion, Dutch actor Robert Wolders.
Dotti currently serves as the charity's chairman.
The siblings are embroiled in a separate court dispute over division of jewelry, property and other items their mother left to them after her death in January 1993. The lawsuit contends that while only one brother has to give permission to display the items, Ferrer has threatened litigation over planned exhibits in Korea and China, and also restricted the charity's access to its website.
The lawsuit contends Ferrer's actions may force the charity to cease operations and could "irreparably damage the sterling reputation of the late Audrey Hepburn."
Emails a phone message left for Ferrer's attorney Wednesday were not returned.
Ferrer, who once ran the charity but stepped aside several years ago, has interfered with potential exhibitions of some of Hepburn's Givenchy dresses in China and Korea, the lawsuit states.
"The fund is seeking to continue to raise funds in the same way it has done for more than two decades," its attorney Steven E. Young wrote in an email Wednesday.
In 2013, the charity made $30,000 in donations to children's hospitals in Los Angeles and New Orleans, according to the most recent tax records available. The records show the foundation's revenues declined from $290,000 the previous year to $223,000 in 2013.
Wednesday's lawsuit comes 18 months after Ferrer sued Dotti seeking to divide up ownership of jewelry, property, a vintage movie poster collection and other memorabilia Hepburn left to her sons. Attorneys for both men reported to a judge in November that negotiations over the items had been productive, but no settlement or resolution has been announced.
Young said Wednesday's lawsuit and the dispute over other items that belonged to Hepburn are not connected.
Hepburn won an Academy Award in 1954 for "Roman Holiday" and was awarded the film academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993. She died before that year's Oscars ceremony, so Ferrer accepted it in her honor and summarized his mother's commitment to helping children.
"She believed every child has the right to health, to hope, to tenderness and to life," Ferrer said during the ceremony, according to a transcript on the film academy's website. "On her behalf I dedicate this to the children of the world."
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP