Nearly two years after being acquitted in the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, Casey Anthony is claiming she owes almost $800,000. The bankruptcy trustee is now looking to repay her debts by auctioning off the rights to her life story, which her lawyers are fighting. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.
Casey Anthony’s life story is worth a decent chunk of change, and the trustee in charge of resolving her bankruptcy wants to sell the rights to it to help settle the nearly $800,000 she owes creditors.
The big catch is that Anthony doesn’t want to sell. Nonetheless, one bidder has already offered $10,000 – to bury her life story, he says – and more are waiting in the wings, according to her bankruptcy trustee.
On Tuesday afternoon, Anthony's trustee and her attorneys brought the issue before federal bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May in Tampa, Fla., who decided he would make a decision 30 days from now on whether the worldwide exclusive rights to her life story can be auctioned off for cash -- a proposal May said he was "skeptical" of, reported NBC affiliate WESH.com.
Most of the hundreds of thousands that Anthony, the Orlando, Fla., mother who was acquitted in 2011 in the murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee, owes is to her defense attorney. She owns less than $1,100 in assets, according to a Chapter 7 petition filed for bankruptcy in January.
Her most valuable asset does not even exist yet, Stephen Meininger, her Tampa-based bankruptcy trustee, told the court on Tuesday, arguing that her best bet for paying back the approximately $792,000 she owes is to put the rights to her life story up for auction -- an unprecedented legal move Anthony's attorneys vehemently disagree with.
"The Trustee does not cite any law to support his contention that he can sell 'property' that has not yet been created," Anthony's attorneys, David Schrader and Debra Ferwarda, wrote in an April 4 court filing. "The Trustee’s Motion also creates a slippery slope that would have dangerous repercussions far beyond the scope of this case."
In the life story of Anthony, 27, there is a lot to tell: allegations of childhood sexual abuse by her father, George, one of the many bombshells that came up during her trial; what was going through her mind in the 31 days between when Caylee went missing and when her disappearance was reported to police; being in jail the day Caylee's remains were found; being voted America's "most hated person"; and what her elusive life has been like in Florida since her acquittal.
Meininger said he's received at least two written offers from people interested in buying the exclusive rights, and others who have expressed interest.
"We haven't really discussed figures, which is one of the reasons why we wanted to set up auction procedures at the hearing," he said Tuesday morning ahead of the hearing. He did say one of the offers was for $12,000. NBC's Kerry Sanders reported on TODAY that an Austin, Texas, attorney, James Schober, put in an offer of $10,000, but that bid was made on condition of preventing the story from ever getting out so Anthony would never profit from it.
"As much as I would like to think otherwise, Casey Anthony's story has value," Schober said.
Schober testified in Tuesday's court hearing via phone, WESH.com reported, and issued a statement explaining the reasons why he wanted to buy the rights to Anthony's story.
""(First)... to demonstrate that the asset has present value; second, to ensure that the proceeds from the sale of the asset are applied to the payment of her existing debts (which is a basic premise of Chapter 7 bankruptcy); and third, to ensure that the sale of the asset takes place in the clear light of day," he said.
No specifics about the second offer were given in court on Tuesday, other than that it came from a New York man who was looking to tell the story for entertainment value.
If the judge approves the sale 30 days from now, the money from the winning bid for Anthony's life story will go toward her debt. But asking Anthony to put something up for auction that doesn't exist yet isn't fair, her attorneys argue.
"By allowing property that can only be created by post-petition labor to be sold as part of the bankruptcy estate, a debtor would never be able to achieve a ‘fresh start,’" the filing says. "Perhaps more troubling, the Order sought by the Trustee would result in the judicial invasion and taking of thoughts and memories that have not been memorialized but are contained solely within the debtor’s mind. This is a terrifying Orwellian prospect that would destroy the long-standing protections guaranteed by the Bankruptcy Code."
Anthony's attorneys also worry that if Schober were to win, it would greatly affect their client's personal life.
“The Trustee’s Motion would literally bar Ms. Anthony from ever discussion her life experiences with anyone by use of ‘all forms of social media’ or ‘the internet.’ Therefore, the plain language of the requested Order would bar Ms. Anthony from even sending an e-mail to her mother related to her childhood experiencing because the rights to those thoughts and memories would belong toe someone else,” the court filing says.
A new hearing will be held in 30 days.
This story was originally published on Tue Apr 9, 2013 11:58 AM EDT