The death of millionaire socialite Steve Bing could revive a family feud over whether his two children – a son with actress Liz Hurley and a daughter with tennis player Lisa Bonder – will inherit the family wealth.
Bing, 55, took his own life in Los Angeles on Monday, leaving a $590million fortune and a tangled legacy involving two children he had hardly met.
Paternity tests proved that Bing was the biological father of Hurley’s son Damian and Bonder’s daughter Kira Kerkorian, but neither grew up in his home.
Bing’s father, Dr Peter Bing, last year tried to cut Damian and Kira out of a trust he had set up for his heirs – arguing that ‘I do not consider them my grandchildren’.
However, Steve Bing and Liz Hurley joined forces to oppose Dr Bing’s gambit, which was dismissed by a US judge – leaving Damian and Kira in line for a share of the reported $480million fund.
It is not yet clear who will inherit Steve Bing’s own fortune, or whether he made a will. California law says that the surviving children – in this case Damian and Kira – will normally inherit an estate if there is no will.
Hurley had rejected Bing’s money in 2002 but said yesterday that they had ‘become close again’ recently and spoken on Damian’s 18th birthday.
Liz Hurley posted these pictures of herself and her ex Steve Bing after his death at the age of 55 – a year after they joined forces to preserve their son Damian’s inheritance rights
Former tennis player Lisa Bonder (left) with Steve Bing and their daughter Kira Kerkorian. Bing’s father says that Steve only met Kira after she became an adult
Liz Hurley and her son Damian are pictured in 2018 at the opening of the Dinosaurs in the Wild attraction in Greenwich, London
Steve Bing was proved to be the father of Damian Hurley in 2002 by a DNA test which was ordered by a British court.
Bing offered to pay $2.9million into a trust in Damian’s name, but Hurley said the money was ‘not wanted or welcome’ and said she would not accept a penny.
‘I have always made it perfectly clear to Stephen Bing, the father of my son Damian, that I don’t want any financial help from him whatsoever,’ she said at the time.
‘However, following legal proceedings instigated by himself and opposed by me, it appears that one cannot stop someone trying to give you money.
‘Fortunately one can refuse to accept it. This I have done.’
The same year, Bing sued movie mogul Kirk Kerkorian in a separate paternity row after claiming Kerkorian had hired a private detective to find DNA in his trash.
The lawsuit was settled out of court, but another paternity test showed that Bing was also the biological father of Lisa Bonder’s daughter, Kira Kerkorian.
Bonder and Kerkorian were married for a month in 1999 after previously having a 10-year relationship.
Kirk Kerkorian died in 2015 and Kira was awarded $8.5million from his will in a 2016 settlement.
The row surfaced again last year when Dr Peter Bing sought to remove Damian and Kira from a trust fund he had set up for his future grandchildren in 1980.
Dr Bing wrote in an affidavit: ‘I have never met Damian or Kira and neither of them was raised by Stephen as part of his family.
‘l know that neither of them has lived with Stephen while a minor as a regular member of his household.
‘To the best of my knowledge, Stephen has never met Damian and Stephen only met Kira after she became an adult.
‘Regardless of whether, when and if Stephen met with or had any relationship with Damian or Kira while they are or were minor because neither was raised by him during their formative years l do not consider them my grandchildren.
‘Even were Stephen to develop a relationship with Damian now, l would not consider him my grandchild because he is nearing adulthood.’
Liz Hurley posted a tribute to Bing on Instagram as news of his suicide spread, saying she was ‘saddened beyond belief’ while describing him as ‘a sweet, kind man’
Damian Hurley, Bing’s son, uploaded his own Instagram post – describing the news as ‘devastating’ and adding: ‘This is a very strange and confusing time and I’m immensely grateful to be surrounded by my phenomenal friends and family’
Dr Bing’s lawyers argued that his other two grandchildren, the children of his daughter Mary, should receive the money.
However, Steve Bing opposed his father’s effort – calling it a ‘massive money-grab’ to deprive Kira and Damian of their inheritance.
Steve Bing claimed that his sister Mary had ‘co-ordinated’ with their father after she ‘saw an opportunity to divert money from Steve Bing’s children to her own’.
‘It would be unjust for Steve Bing’s children to be denied their rightful share of the Trusts’ proceeds just because of the life choices their parents made,’ his lawyers said.
Peter Bing, Steve’s father, attempted to cut Damian and Kira out of a trust he established to benefit his grandchildren – but ultimately lost the case
‘Steve Bing will not stand idly by as his family exploits those circumstances and tries to redirect funds from Steve Bing’s children to Mary Bing’s children.’
In her own filing, Hurley accused Dr Peter Bing of having ‘misdirected anger’ towards Steve, that has ‘nothing to do with Damian’.
Despite Hurley’s earlier refusal of money, her court filing said that Steve Bing had provided for Damian financially all his life.
Hurley also said yesterday that she and Bing had ‘become close again in the past year’ and spoken on their son Damian’s 18th birthday.
Los Angeles judge Daniel Juarez found in Steve Bing’s favor last year, rejecting his father’s attempt to redefine the term ‘grandchild’.
Juarez said there was ‘nothing in the trusts’ that would ‘exclude non-marital grandchildren’ or that would ‘reasonably lead’ to Dr Bing’s definition of ‘grandchild’.
The court found that Damian and Kira ‘are beneficiaries of the Trusts if they are biologically born children of Settlor’s child’, referring to Steve Bing.
Hurley yesterday posted a heartfelt tribute to Bing, saying she was ‘saddened beyond belief that my ex Steve is no longer with us’.
Calling his death a ‘terrible end’, she said she had ‘good, wonderful memories of a sweet, kind man’ despite the ‘tough times’ in their relationship.
‘In the past year we had become close again. We last spoke on our son’s 18th birthday,’ she revealed.
Bing and Hurley pictured at the polo in the Hamptons in 2001, during their on-off relationship
The British actress revealed that the pair had reconnected over the last year, and had last spoke on son Damian’s 18th birthday on April 4 (pictured left and right, the pair during their relationship in pictures she posted online)
Lisa Bonder said she and Hurley would join forces to help Bing’s two children after his death.
‘I spoke to Elizabeth last night and we are going to address this tragedy for Steve’s two children and try to protect them in any way possible, we will do everything in our power and make sure they are supported,’ Bonder told The Sun.
‘It is a tough time for them. Liz and I are as one on that, she said, adding: ‘It is never easy for a child to lose a parent in such a tragic manner.’
Bonder said she and Kira had forged stronger bonds with Bing in the two years leading up to his death.
‘We decided to come together for the sake of our daughter,’ she said.
Bing was an LA socialite and film producer who was often seen on red carpets and courtside at Lakers games.
He inherited hundreds of millions of dollars when he turned 18 from his grandfather Leo Bing, a New York real estate developer.
Bing also donated millions to the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi.
‘I loved Steve Bing very much,’ former president Bill Clinton said. ‘He had a big heart, and he was willing to do anything he could for the people and causes he believed in.
‘I will miss him and his enthusiasm more than I can say, and I hope he’s finally found peace.’
Bing died on Monday after jumping from a building in Los Angeles. The coroner’s office gave the cause of Bing’s death as multiple blunt trauma and the manner of his death as suicide.
The case is now closed, the coroner added.
- For confidential support in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255
- In the UK, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details
- In Australia, call the Lifeline 24-hour crisis support on 13 11 14
Lonely life of tycoon father who Liz Hurley’s boy ‘never met’, by TOM LEONARD: Steve Bing, who plunged to his death aged 55, was dubbed ‘Bing Laden’ after denying he was Damian’s dad – one of TWO love children he sired. So did regrets overwhelm him?
By Tom Leonard for the Daily Mail
Multi-millionaire film-maker Steve Bing had to take a DNA test before he would admit he had fathered a child with Liz Hurley, and he spent a lifetime keeping the many women in his life at arm’s length.
Tragically, it appears to have been his loneliness in lockdown that proved too much for him, leading him to plunge to his death from the 27th floor of his Los Angeles apartment block on Monday.
As friends said that Bing had suffered from depression and had struggled to cope with the lack of human contact in recent months, Hurley revealed yesterday that Bing had recently got in touch with her after years of silence.
Liz Hurley (right) sent a message of sorrow after millionaire former flame Steve Bing (left) fell to his death on Monday
With reports claiming that he was suffering with depression, Bing plunged to his death from the 27th floor of his Los Angeles apartment block (pictured) on Monday
Sharing hitherto unseen photos of them together in happier times on social media, Hurley said she was ‘saddened beyond belief’ at his ‘terrible end’.
Police have suggested that the 55-year-old jumped from the super-smart Ten Thousand building just after 1pm on Monday.
The 6 ft 4 in playboy bachelor, who inherited a $600 million (£480 million) family fortune from his New York property developer grandfather, at one time counted Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner among his friends.
He was a generous donor to environmental causes and had some success in Hollywood, backing the Tom Hanks animated film The Polar Express, Beowulf (starring Ray Winstone) and the Rolling Stones concert movie Shine A Light.
However, his philanthropy and film work were overshadowed by a scandalous private life, including two high-profile paternity cases.
In the first, some 18 years ago, Bing disputed Hurley’s claim that he had fathered her son Damian — reportedly at Elton John’s villa in the South of France.
(Hurley had recently emerged from a 13-year relationship with Hugh Grant when she embarked on the romance.)
In 2002, meanwhile, Bing sued billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, 84, for invasion of privacy after the latter hired private detectives to go through his rubbish, removing a piece of dental floss. DNA on this floss was later used to prove that Bing had fathered a child with Kerkorian’s wife Lisa Bonder.
A man who shunned romantic commitment and lived alone, Bing had also fallen out with his own family by the time he died, accusing them of trying to write both Damian and Kira (his daughter with Bonder) out of the family fortune on the grounds that the children were born out of wedlock and never really lived with him.
However, given that he had already pledged to donate most of his estimated remaining $590 million (£470 million) fortune to charity, sadness over his death is unlikely to be compounded by a battle over his money.
This week, Hurley wrote on Instagram: ‘Our time together was very happy and although we went through some tough times, it’s the good, wonderful memories of a sweet, kind man that matter.’
Ms Hurley said that the pair (pictured at Elton John’s post-Oscar party in 2000) had ‘good and wonderful’ memories together as a couple
She said they had ‘become close again’ in the past year and that they last spoke on Damian’s 18th birthday in April. In 2018, court papers claimed the boy had never even met his father.
Damian himself said on the loss of his father: ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that has reached out following the devastating news. This is a very strange and confusing time and I’m immensely grateful to be surrounded by my phenomenal family and friends.’
Bill Clinton, who received generous political donations from Bing, also paid tribute, saying: ‘I loved Steve Bing very much. He had a big heart and he was willing to do anything he could for the people and the causes he believed in. I will miss him and his enthusiasm more than I can say, and I hope he has finally found peace.’
Bing, who spent years living in an expensive hotel, made his final home in arguably LA’s swankiest apartment building, a 40-floor residence on the edge of Beverly Hills where the rent starts at $65,000 (£52,000) a month.
He came into his fortune — courtesy of grandfather Leo’s New York skyscraper empire — on his 18th birthday, promptly dropping out of Stanford University to try to make a career in Hollywood.
Bing’s denied that he was the father of Ms Hurley’s son Damian (pictured left), with only a DNA test proving that he was the father
He had limited success as a screenwriter and his first film was an erotic thriller, Every Breath, that went straight to video.
However, his deep wallet and charm won him famous friends in the film world including the actor James Caan, who became a father figure.
His generosity to Democrat causes introduced him to another set of prominent pals: he and Clinton were friends of Jeffrey Epstein, the late paedophile financier and friend of Prince Andrew.
The secretive Bing — who repeatedly resorted to legal action to protect his privacy — was sometimes compared to the enigmatic protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.
Acutely sensitive about his wealth, he preferred to donate from the shadows.
He liked to dress in ripped jeans and ragged T-shirts, once surprising a political fundraiser who mistook him for a gardener. Instead, Bing pulled a crumpled blank cheque out of his back pocket and filled it out for $1 million before handing it over.
His sexual appetites, however, were very much in line with Hollywood tradition. Once described as ‘a man dedicated apparently in equal measures to philanthropy, politics and women’, Bing — a ‘high roller’ in Las Vegas — patronised strip clubs where he showered the girls with $100 bills.
He had a reputation as a prodigious womaniser whose girlfriends included Playboy Playmates, model Naomi Campbell and film stars including Uma Thurman, Sharon Stone and Farrah Fawcett.
When he wasn’t spending time with actresses, he liked to hang out with members of the LA ‘bratpack’ at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion, scene of some of the worst debauchery in Tinseltown.
‘He’s an equal-opportunity employer,’ a friend once quipped. ‘Girls are all over him.’
However, Bing was a determined bachelor. He moved into the Hotel Bel-Air one night in the early 1990s and stayed there for nine years.
Friends believed his hotel living spoke volumes for his attitude to life, and particularly his romantic attachments.
‘There’s nothing more spectacularly non-committal than living in a hotel,’ said one.
Bing later bought a small two-bedroom home in Bel Air but subsequently bought the adjoining seven houses so he could knock them down and build a palatial, private compound.
Yet it was his relationship with Liz Hurley that finally dragged him into the limelight. He was 35 and doing well in Hollywood when he met her.
He famously loved to spoil women, and wooed 35-year-old Hurley with private jets, a solid-gold Rolex, sapphire and diamond rings and all-expenses-paid trips to New York and Europe.
They split briefly in March 2001 but resumed the relationship to spend time together at his suite at the Hotel Bel-Air, and they holidayed at Elton John’s villa in Nice that August — where Damian is reported to have been conceived.
But instead of uniting them, the baby news sparked one of Hollywood’s most bitter paternity feuds. While friends attested to his enormous generosity and refreshing lack of pretension, he was dubbed a ‘love rat’ over his unchivalrous behaviour.
Having paid Liz’s six-figure legal bill when she was sued by the Screen Actors Guild for strike-breaking, Bing was less generous when she revealed in 2001 that she was pregnant with his child.
He issued a press release saying they hadn’t been in an exclusive relationship and that it was ‘her choice to be a single mother’.
Bing family sources insisted he had asked Hurley to have a termination but she refused, later rejecting his request that they attend counselling together to discuss how to proceed.
Although Bing initially denied he was the biological father, Hurley vehemently denied that it could have been any other man.
The result of the court-ordered DNA test was final. After he was forced to admit he was Damian’s father, Bing said he would pay £100,000 a year into a trust for the boy.
Court papers stated that Damian (pictured right in 2018) had never even met his father
But Hurley rejected the offer. She had learnt that Bing had been having a simultaneous affair with Brenda Swanson, an Armani model, and was infuriated after Bing’s sister Mary claimed Hurley ‘snookered’ him into becoming a parent.
He did even more to earn his ugly nickname of ‘The Sperminator’ when he was at the centre of another bombshell paternity case in 2002.
Bing sued MGM Studios boss Kirk Kerkorian for $1 billion, claiming he had breached his privacy by hiring a private detective to rummage through his dustbins and find the crucial dental floss.
This proved that Bing had sired a daughter, Kira, by Kerkorian’s wife, the former tennis player Lisa Bonder.
Ms Bonder had been married to Kerkorian — who at 84 was 48 years her senior — for just 28 days in 1999, later reuniting for a one-week fling during which she said she became pregnant.
Although Bing was reportedly upset at being dubbed ‘Bing Laden’ over his treatment of Hurley and refused to speak to her for years afterwards, he did join forces with her to fight off a bid by his 84-year-old father, Peter, to write Damian out of the family fortune.
Peter, a doctor, claimed Damian was not entitled to inherit money as he had been born out of wedlock and brought up by Hurley rather than Bing. Peter also claimed in court documents that Damian had never even laid eyes on his biological father.
Steve hit back, accusing his father and sister Mary of ‘orchestrating a massive money-grab’ designed to ensure more money went to Mary’s two children.
In July 2019, an LA judge agreed and ruled that Peter had ‘unreasonably distorted’ the meaning of grandchild.
The court ordered that both Damian and Kira will have access to a trust fund — reportedly worth more than £380 million.
A complicated man who realised that immense wealth was both a blessing and a curse, Steve Bing spent his life both revelling in his money and trying to escape the problems it caused him.
Additional reporting: Barbara McMahon