Anna Nicole Smith is one of the biggest pop culture icons of the past few decades, 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.
In 1991, Smith met billionaire J. Howard Marshall. The two met in a Houston strip club. 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.
It wasn’t a lasting marriage, 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.
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.