Most of Richard Mellon Scaife's wealth tied up in trusts, his will shows
July 14, 2014 7:08 AM
Richard Mellon Scaife
By Rich Lord and Jonathan D. Silver / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Richard Mellon Scaife’s last will and testament, filed Friday with the register of wills of Westmoreland County, provides little detail about the disposition of assets that have been estimated at $1.4 billion.
Mr. Scaife died July 4.
“All of his wishes are carried out in the same manner in which he lived his life,” said Mr. Scaife‘s longtime attorney H. Yale Gutnick, one of the will’s executors.
The will was witnessed by three people, including Mr. Scaife‘s physician, and was signed in February 2013 only with the initials R.M.S. That‘s “how he often signed [documents] over the last four or five years,” said Mr. Gutnick.
The will steers Mr. Scaife’s art, his late mother’s real estate, and stock trusts that she left behind to various charities. It indicates the existence of two trust funds, one of which appears to be tied to the Tribune-Review newspapers.
The only entity receiving a specific dollar bequest in the will is the Brandywine Conservancy, of Chadds Ford in Delaware County. The will leaves $15 million to the conservancy. It also gets roughly one-half of his art collection, plus the 900-acre Penguin Court, the Ligonier estate that Mr. Scaife inherited from his mother, including all automobiles and other property there.
The Brandywine Conservancy in Delaware County has as its mission protecting the natural and cultural resources of the Brandywine watershed. Virginia Logan, the conservancy's executive director, said in a statement that Mr. Scaife had long been a trustee.
"That he has chosen to leave the conservancy a property containing acres of mature forest reflects his belief in the importance of our mission and our continuing work in land conservation," Ms. Logan said.
Receiving the other half of Mr. Scaife’s art collection, plus eight paintings by John Kane, is the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
A few hours after learning that Mr. Scaife had donated half his art collection to the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Judith O'Toole was still in shock late Friday afternoon.
“My stomach is up by my heart,” Ms. O'Toole, the museum's director/CEO said. “It's very significant.”
Much of the rest of Mr. Scaife’s assets flow to several foundations and trusts. (Read his full last will and testament below.)
All “family memorabilia,” including books, photographs and family artworks, go to the Allegheny Foundation, which is one of the three Scaife Foundations. Cars, furniture, rugs, books, chinaware, silverware, clothing and jewelry, though, “shall be sold and the proceeds added to my residuary estate,” according to the will.
The will also addresses three trusts established by Mr. Scaife’s mother, Sarah Mellon Scaife. One of those trusts alone contained, at the time of its creation in 1965, 118,348 shares of Alcoa stock and 721,087 shares of Gulf Oil stock, according to Frederick Frank, an attorney whose practice includes estate work and who is retained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
According to the will, Mr. Scaife had the power to appoint others to control the three trusts. The will splits that power of appointment between the Allegheny Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.
“Each of the trusts that his mother created, and of which he was primary beneficiary over the years, contain a power of appointment,” said Mr. Gutnick. “He exercised that power of appointment, and as a result of that exercise, the funds will flow to [the two] foundations.”
If the foundations were unable to accept the assets as charitable gifts, then they would flow to any of seven other organizations: the Allegheny Institute of Public Policy of Mt. Lebanon; the Brandywine Conservancy; the Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts; the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.; the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace in California; the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pa.; and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
Other than the conservancy and the art museum, the entities don’t receive any direct bequest in the will. Mr. Gutnick declined to detail any provisions Mr. Scaife made for those entities.
Mr. Scaife specified that his dogs should be given “to individuals who will provide good homes for them,” as determined by the will’s executors, Mr. Gutnick and Mr. Scaife‘s cousin James M. Walton.
The will indicates that unspecified assets are held in the Richard M. Scaife 2008 Revocable Trust. The terms of the trust, which are not public, would go into effect assuming he didn’t revoke them during his lifetime, according to Mr. Frank.
The will also mentions, but does not detail, an irrevocable trust created in 2004 which includes among its five trustees at least three people involved with the Tribune-Review: Mr. Gutnick, former Tribune-Review president Edward H. Harrell and Trib Total Media CEO Ralph J. Martin.
Mr. Gutnick declined to describe the sizes and roles of the trusts.
The will includes a clause apparently meant to deter challenges. If any beneficiary contests the exercise of the will without “probable cause,” they would have to pay costs and fees incurred by the executors in fighting off the challenge. The will also threatens that in the event of a contest “any share or interest in my estate hereunder shall be revoked and the share of interest of such beneficiary in my estate hereunder shall be distributed in the manner provided in this my will as if such beneficiary had predeceased me.”
Mr. Gutnick said he drafted those terms.
Mr. Frank said that such language is sometimes used in wills when the testator anticipates a potential challenge.
Mr. Scaife was married and divorced twice. He was survived by a daughter, Jennie King Scaife, of Palm Beach, Fla, and a son, David Negley Scaife, of Squirrel Hill. The will does not mention his former wives, nor his daughter or son.
Mr. Gutnick said the son and daughter “are provided for substantially by Mr. Scaife and his family.”
Mr. Scaife’s “generosity in death probably exceeds his generosity in life, which was extremely generous,” said Mr. Gutnick.
While saddened by Mr. Scaife's death, Ms. O'Toole, who has run the art museum for 21 years, said she was thrilled that he left at least eight works by Kane, an important "primitive" Pittsburgh artist who transitioned from laborer to sensation.
“He eludes us as the prices go up. To acquire a collection like that in a nano-second" -- along with other paintings -- “it’s pretty staggering news,” Ms. O'Toole said.
Mr. Scaife “has some very significant paintings by major American artists,” she said. “I'm already wondering if our new galleries are going to be big enough. It's a good problem to have.”
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
email@example.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.