Peter Ustinov's son has been left facing possible bankruptcy after losing a lengthy legal battle over the legendary British actor's fortune.
Sculptor Igor Cloutier von Ustinov, 56, has spent years embroiled in a dispute with the double Oscar-winner's third wife and widow, Lady Helene Ustinov, as he attempted to track down the "rights and royalties" to his father's writings and film work, which he claims were left in trust for the children.
Von Ustinov, the Spartacus star's son by his second wife, has been involved in legal wrangling in Switzerland, and also launched a parallel case in the U.K., but a judge at London's High Court has now thrown out his claim, leaving him with a crippling $182,400 (£114,000) legal bill.
In her ruling, Mrs Justice Proudman said was "appalled" by the amount of money that had been spent on the legal challenge, and insisted Von Ustinov had failed to provide evidence to prove his father had set up the trust funds.
She said, "The allegation is that a trust must have been set up, but there is no evidence of any actual trust. Mr von Ustinov can't say who are its beneficiaries and what are its terms. His claim is the most fragile claim imaginable."
Speaking after the ruling last Friday (25Jan13), Von Ustinov said, "It's a horrible situation. I was very close to my father - when he died I was holding his hand and I felt like he had asked me to put some order into his affairs, but it has been very hard. Now I'm close to bankruptcy and I don't know what to do. Nine years I've been fighting and I didn't inherit a penny yet."
The legal proceedings will continue in Switzerland, the country where Ustinov settled in the 1960s. He died there in 2004 aged 82.