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Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim left behind an estate worth $75 million to husband, friends

Stephen Sondheim, the Broadway legend who died in November, has reportedly left his $75 million estate to his husband, friends and multiple charities, according to court papers.  

The ‘West Side Story’ songwriter left the contents of his estate, including the rights to his music and literary works, personal effects and finances, which will go into the Stephen J Sondheim Revocable Trust, his will states. 

Sondheim designated 20 people and charities as beneficiaries to his trust, including his husband Jeffrey Romley, his ‘Into the Woods’ collaborator and director James Lapine, and fellow playwright Peter Jones, with whom Sondheim had a relationship when he was 60, the New York Post reports.

Sondheim also listed the likes of the Smithsonian Institute, the Museum of New York City, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Dramatists Guild Fund and the Irish Repertory Theater Company as beneficiaries to his estate.

Pictured: Stephen Sondheim and husband Jeff Romley at the 2013 Library Lions Gala

Then-President Barack Obama, right, presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to composer Stephen Sondheim during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, in 2015

Then-President Barack Obama, right, presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to composer Stephen Sondheim during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, in 2015 

He also named a soon-to-be created Stephen Sondheim Foundation as another beneficiary. 

Other names listed in Sondheim’s will include Rob Girard, his gardener for 14 years, and Sondheims close friend, home designer Charles Peter Wooster, who lived on Sondheim’s Connecticut property in a carriage house, according to the New York Times.  

‘It’s called a pour-over will where everything goes to the trust,’ the lawyer source said. 

‘It is a very classic estate planning technique.’ 

The lyricist and composer’s lawyer and friend, F Richard Pappas, had announced that Sondheim died at 91 years old in his Roxbury, Connecticut home a day after Thanksgiving. 

According to his will, Sondheim named Pappas and another man who was not identified as the executors of his estate. 

The source added, ‘The trust will certainly tell the full story but we don’t have a copy of that.’

‘We can safely assume that the names of people listed in the probate petition are beneficiaries and will be receiving something but we don’t know how much.’

Irish Repertory Theater co-founders Ciarán O’Reilly and Charlotte Moore called the bequest ‘a lovely surprise.’ 

Photo of Stephen Sondheim Photo by Michael Ochs, circa 1970

Photo of Stephen Sondheim Photo by Michael Ochs, circa 1970

Sondheim was the songwriter for West Side Story, a smash hit Broadway play. Pictured above is the cast of the film adaptation

Sondheim was the songwriter for West Side Story, a smash hit Broadway play. Pictured above is the cast of the film adaptation 

Pictured: Sondheim's Roxbury, Connecticut estate, where he died in November at the age of 91

Pictured: Sondheim’s Roxbury, Connecticut estate, where he died in November at the age of 91

Sondheim ‘never failed to honor us with his staunch support … especially of our musicals and musical adaptations,’ their statement continued. 

‘Having “Himself” in our audience, while absolutely terrifying, confirmed our right to venture into the mysterious worlds in which he was the undisputed master.’

According to the Post, a New York trust lawyer not connected to Sondheim’s case said the composer managed his estate well, with someone close to him managing his musical legacy through inheriting his intellectual property. 

‘Stephen Sondheim has worked with the top planning attorneys in the country and has a very good sound estate plan that will benefit his spouse and his friends and charitable organizations that were important to him,’ the legal source told the Post. 

‘Also, it keeps order of his intellectual property … there is somebody who is managing his musical legacy.’


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