The Dispute Between the Pincus Sons and the Princess Is Not About the Money

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Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal in 2005.
Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal in 2005. Photo: Getty Images

The two sons of Lionel Pincus, who grew up millionaires on a tony stretch of Park Avenue and have never been obligated to work in their lives, are trying to sell a spectacular Pierre penthouse under the feet of Princess Firyal of Jordan, for whom their father purchased the place. The princess — who dated their father until he became mentally incapacitated in 2006, and still tends to him — is busy trying to stop the sale and has been lavishly decorating the space. Although a settlement had been reached last year so that the princess could get the penthouse — a trust of $85 million, $15 million in cash (with $10 million more once Pincus actually dies) — the brothers now want to sell the apartment and give the proceeds to charity. The house is currently listed at $35 million.

Let's be clear, though. According to the boys and the princess, this isn't about the cash involved. Listen to what their friends and lawyers have to say:

• "Do they wish Dad had never met this nice-looking woman who showed him things he had never experienced?" a princess pal asked. "Sure, greedy little sons of a bitch." (This is a bit harsh, as the boys' mother — Pincus's longtime wife — died of cancer over a decade ago.)
• Money, in fact, is nothing to the princess, who simply said: "We, like many in our circle in New York, chose to live our life in our way and style."
• "They think she's a menace," said the sons' attorney. "That's what the whole thing is about. It's not about preserving money. Above all, they want their father to be left alone."
• "He is a very generous man, as evidenced by the $2 to $3 million weddings he paid for," the princess said, alluding to the two sons' lavish nuptial ceremonies.
• "They didn't have a problem with Firyal until they found out she was ripping off their dad," the sons' lawyer said.
• "Oh," muttered a princess pal upon hearing this obvious allusion to the Astor trial. "Choreographed like Nijinsky, my friend."

David Patrick Columbia, the social diarist, puts it best in the Observer story. "We play this middle-class card that we only play when it's convenient, and say she's a money grubber. That's what everybody's after! The sons, the lawyers, the PR people, everybody." Truer words were never said.

The Princess and the Pincuses [NYO]
Earlier: Lionel Pincus's $50 Million Duplex, and You
The Princess, the Pincus Billionaire, and the Pierre Penthouse