Comic book industry legend Stan Lee is suing a former business manager for fraud and elder abuse in a suit that alleges such egregious claims of abuse as extracting and selling vials of the Marvel Comics icon’s blood as “collectibles” in Las Vegas.
Lee, whom many consider the godfather of the modern-day superhero, was grieving the death of his wife of 70 years, Joan B. Lee, in late 2017 when he became the target of “unscrupulous businessmen, sycophants and opportunists” who sought to take advantage of his despondency.
A suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges Jerardo Olivarez is once such opportunist. A former business associate of Lee’s daughter, the suit claims Olivarez took control of Lee’s professional and financial affairs — and began enriching himself through various schemes and bogus enterprises.
Within days of Joan Lee’s death, Olivarez and others fired Stan Lee’s banker of 26 years and his long-time attorney, and transferred $4.6 million out of Lee’s bank account without authorization, according to the lawsuit.
Under the pretext of checking on Lee’s well-being, Olivarez convinced the grieving man to sign over power of attorney and appoint Olivarez’s own lawyer, Uri Litvak, as Lee’s attorney.
Lee was duped into donating $300,000 to a bogus charity, the Hands of Respect, which Olivarez claimed was a non-profit organization working to promote racial harmony, the suit claims. The company is actually registered as a for-profit merchandising company.
“Olivarez misled Lee and the public into thinking that it was a caring non-profit charity to ease racial tension, when in reality, Hands of Respect was just a scheme to appropriate funds from Lee and the public to enrich Olivarez,” the suit alleges.
In one particularly ghoulish money-making scheme, Olivarez instructed a nurse to extract many containers of blood from Lee, which Hands of Respect later sold in Las Vegas for thousands of dollars, the suit contends.
“There are shops in Las Vegas selling Stan Lee’s blood,” said a family friend, Keya Morgan. “They’re stamping his blood inside the Black Panther comic books and they sell them for $500 each.”
Lee also unwittingly purchased a West Hollywood condominium for Olivarez’s exclusive use for $850,000, without Lee’s knowledge, approval or participation, the suit alleges. Another $1.4 million has simply disappeared from Lee’s accounts through a series of complicated wire transfers that Olivarez initiated and ultimate received, the suit claims.
The creator of Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men and other comic book characters is seeking an accounting of his funds and demanding restitution.