An appeals court was set to hear arguments Wednesday about whether Anna Nicole Smith should be buried in the Bahamas or Texas — a dispute that has dragged on for more than two weeks after the pinup’s death.
In filings Tuesday with the Florida 4th District Court of Appeal, attorneys for Smith’s boyfriend and her infant daughter claimed Smith’s estranged mother was trying to “place her in death where she never wanted to be in life” — Texas.
The three judges assigned to the case haven’t said when they will rule. Smith, 39, died in a Florida hotel Feb. 8.
Florida Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin last week gave control of Smith’s body to the attorney for her 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn. The judge said he wanted to preserve Smith’s dignity by having the funeral occur quickly after being told by the medical examiner that her body was decomposing.
The girl’s attorney, Richard Milstein, quickly said he would bury Smith in the Bahamas, where witnesses said she wanted to be laid to rest.
But Smith’s estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, filed a petition Monday challenging the decision. In filings Monday, she claimed that Seidlin had no authority under Florida law to grant custody of Smith’s body to the girl’s advocate, and that she is the “legally recognized person” to take her daughter’s remains.
Smith’s death has also sparked a dispute over her infant daughter. Smith’s boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, is listed on the birth certificate, but two other men also claim to be the girl’s father.
Los Angeles photographer Larry Birkhead wants a Fort Lauderdale court to enforce a California judge’s orders so he can get DNA samples from Smith’s body and the baby. Broward Family Court Judge Lawrence Korda is expected to rule on that request Wednesday.
In the Bahamas, a hearing is scheduled for next month in the dispute between Arthur and Stern about Dannielynn’s guardianship. Stern has been barred by a judge from taking the girl out of the Bahamas until a ruling.
Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26. The reality TV star and Playboy Playmate had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995.