INDIANAPOLIS -- Two charities bickering over the trust money of an heiress to the Eli Lilly and Co. pharmaceutical fortune were scolded by a judge over a lawsuit claiming a bank reduced the value of their donations because of delayed stock transactions.
The Chicago-based Poetry Foundation and the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for the Arts, have been named as two beneficiaries of 91-year-old Ruth Lilly's trust after her death.
Lilly, the only surviving great-grandchild of Eli Lilly, who founded the pharmaceutical company, had a wealth valued at more than $1 billion in 2002.
That year, the two nonprofits sued National City Bank of Indiana, claiming the bank failed to sell $286 million worth of trust-held stock in Eli Lilly and Co., diminishing the organizations' future payday by tens of millions. The trusts were worth roughly $184 million when the suits were filed.
``If you have a gift horse," Indiana Court of Appeals Judge John Baker said yesterday, you ``keep your mouth shut."
In court filings, attorneys for the bank that manages Lilly's assets, said both organizations should be grateful for any money they receive. The two groups ``are potential beneficiaries today only because the bank sought them out," National City's lawyers wrote.
Poetry Foundation lawyer Eugene Schiltz questioned a clause in the trust documents that gives the bank the ability to sell or ``retain indefinitely" assets as long as any decision is made in good faith.
This month, a probate court judge awarded legal guardianship of the ailing heiress to her nephew, Eli Lilly II of Indianapolis, and her niece, Ruth Virginia Lilly Nicholas of Boston, wife of Boston Scientific cofounder and chairman Pete Nicholas.