Audrey Hepburn's Sons Tragically Feuded Long After Her Death

In 1993, legendary actress Audrey Hepburn died at the age of 63. In the final years of her life, Hepburn's gaunt appearance led many to believe she suffered from an eating disorder. The truth was, the actress had a hearty appetite and loved eating pasta and chocolates. Unbeknownst to many, her weight loss was the result of cancer.

As reported by People, Hepburn was diagnosed with cancer of the appendix in 1992 and was given three months to live. Her partner, Robert Wolders, said the actress wasn't afraid of dying but was scared of the pain she had to endure due to her ailment. Hepburn's only request was to spend her last holidays at home in Switzerland. She got her wish and told Wolders that it was the "most beautiful Christmas" she had ever experienced. She spent her final days in hospice care at her home and died in her sleep on January 20.

Audrey Hepburn's two sons

Audrey Hepburn married actor Mel Ferrer in 1954 and had a son, Sean Ferrer (pictured right). The couple divorced in 1968, and Hepburn married Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti the following year. The couple also had a son named Luca Dotti (pictured left). The half-brothers shared how their mother was always present in their lives despite being a Hollywood star. Dotti said that her mother always picked him up from school (via Closer Weekly). Ferrer, on the other hand, recalled a time when Hepburn took a step back from her career to be able to take care of him.

At the time of her death, Hepburn's estate was worth about $55 million, as reported by Celebrity Net Worth. Her will dictated her jewels be given to her close family and friends, and she named her two sons as the appointed heirs to the majority of her estate, including rights to film contracts, her name and likeness, as well as royalties from her movies.

The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund

Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti established the non-profit organization Hollywood for Children after their mother's death. It was later renamed Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund. The organization was put up in order to continue Hepburn's philanthropic efforts and humanitarian work. Since its establishment, it has made use of Hepburn's personal effects, memorabilia, and likeness in fundraising events for programs and charities. The organization also sells items, such as books, shirts, and bags that carry Hepburn's image.

In 2013, however, Hepburn's eldest son, Ferrer, began speaking against the charity for its use of intellectual properties. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he wanted the charity to pay for its use of his mother's image, or to donate a portion of its proceeds to a charity of his choosing in order to control how Hepburn's image is used. Ferrer and Dotti have equal authority over their mother's estate, and according to the charity, Ferrer took over its website and emails without consulting his half-brother. That issue was the root of the legal battle between the brothers.

The legal battle over Audrey Hepburn memorabilia

In response to his older brother, Luca Dotti, who serves as the chairman of the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund, filed a lawsuit against Sean Ferrer that stated he was intruding on the charity's fundraising efforts, which may cause it to dissolve if it can't meet its obligations, as reported by Variety. Although the half-brothers had equal rights to their mother's estate, the will did not specify which brother received specific items.

In 2017, as reported by The Daily Mail, Ferrer and Dotti agreed to sign an agreement that detailed their mother's belongings and which ones would go to each brother, which ended their feud. In regard to the lawsuit filed by the charity against Ferrer, a judge sided with Hepburn's son, stating that since intellectual properties were owned equally by the two brothers, both Ferrer and Dotti must consent before they can be used (via NBC Los Angeles).