Real-estate mogul Burt Handelsman endured hours of cross-examination Wednesday at the North County Courthouse in testimony that will help a judge decide how to divide an estimated $550 million fortune he shares with his ex-wife Lucille and three grown children.
The divorce trial, which began in early February and was suspended in late March for three-plus months before resuming Tuesday, pits Handelsman, 90, against Lucille, 89, and the three children, whom Burt has referred to in court depositions as his “enemies.”
After spending Tuesday being quizzed by his own attorney, Handelsman found the witness stand a much less friendly spot Wednesday.
Jeff Fisher, who represents the Handelman’s children, hammered away at the accuracy and veracity of Handelman’s testimony.
Fisher brought up several instances where, he indicated, Handelsman was “contrived” or “inconsistent” in his statements in order to secure property he said should go to him and not Lucille or the children.
Fisher asked Handelsman about receiving cash payments from a tenant in Delray Beach that he did not disclose as required by the court.
In another instant, Fisher queried Handelsman about a 50-pound, solid-silver replica of the Statue of Liberty that he sold against the wishes of Lucille and the children.
Handelsman said he sold the statue for $11,000 to pay a retainer for his attorneys. Handelsman said in prior testimony that he doesn’t remember who he sold the statue to.
“Why would a man worth $110 million need $11,000?” Fisher wondered, adding that Handelsman was paying his current lawyers with an American Express card.
Handelsman denied selling the statue to spite Lucille and the children.
“You’re credibility is at issue,” Fisher told Handelsman at one point.
“That’s right,” Handelman responded.
Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer granted Lucille’s petition for divorce in February, finding that the couple’s union was “irretrievably broken” after allegations of infidelity against her husband.
Lucille filed for divorce in 2016 after claiming her husband was involved in a relationship with a Fort Lauderdale attorney.
The trial is expected to run through Friday.