Vanessa Amorosi has accused her estranged mother of manipulating her into handing over her fortune before turning her own family against her.
The Australian singer took the witness stand at a Supreme Court trial in Melbourne on Thursday to describe how her mother, Joyleen Robinson, allegedly mismanaged her finances.
Amorosi, 42, filed his complaint in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2021, citing “unreasonable conduct”.
Singer Vanessa Amorosi (pictured) has launched legal action in the Victorian Supreme Court against her mother Joyleen Robinson, claiming she lived solely on her career earnings.
The court heard the singer believed her mother exploited her wealth at the height of her popularity, when she was just a teenager.
Amorosi told the court she was effectively brainwashed into believing her mother was the only person she trusted to manage the millions of dollars she earned after becoming a star in 2000.
“This has happened since (I) was young. No one could be trusted. Like it’s something that’s not right… not your old friends, not your best friends, not your management, not your father-in-law. At the end of the day, the person you have to trust is your mother,” Amorosi said, breaking down in tears.
“She’s there because she truly loves me and doesn’t need anything from me other than me being her daughter. And as time went on, I earned more money and I was more successful, everyone became the enemy.
“Boyfriends were enemies, husband was the enemy. She must be the only one with good intentions, and I believed it.
Amorosi, who flew to Australia from her home in Los Angeles to attend the trial, became suspicious of her mother’s dealings with her fortune in 2014 when she hired forensic accountants to begin investigating the management of his fortune by his mother.
Ms Robinson (pictured outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday) was accused of scamming her daughter
Seven years later, she hired lawyers and filed a 213-paragraph statement of claim with the Supreme Court.
Mediation between the parties has significantly reduced that claim, but a dispute remains over two properties to which Amorosi claims his mother is not entitled.
One such house is the Narre Warren North cabin which was recently raided by police.
The second is Amorosi’s home in the United States, which is owned by a family business that also owes Westpac Bank $650,000.
Amorosi’s attorney, Philip Solimon, KC, told the court that the singer wanted control of both the properties and the debt.
In Amorosi’s original statement, she claimed her mother took advantage of her finances in September 1999, when she was 17 and just having her big break.
The court heard Amorosi earned just under $1 million in 2001 after bursting onto screens at the 2000 Olympics.
But in late 2014, she was evicted from her property in the United States after reportedly running out of money.
The Amorosi cabin in Narre Warren North once served as his studio
Amorosi told the court that after questioning her mother about where all her money had gone, she was accused of spending it all herself.
“I couldn’t get answers to what was really happening and why I was losing my house…she said I spent it all.” She said I had spent all the money and should go home and get to work. I should go back on tour,” she said.
Amorosi said that when she asked her mother to show her where all her money had gone, she turned it into a “dead end.”
“Asking my mother this question made my siblings very angry, which started a war between the family,” she said.
Amorosi said when she returned to Australia in 2015 while pregnant, she was refused entry to her own home.
“I kept questioning my mother, so that made everyone angry and that’s it. It was very clear to me that I was not welcome at home,” she said.
Opening the trial, Mr Solimon said his client had enjoyed “tremendous” success over the past 25 years.
In 1999, when she was still a teenager, Amorosi’s mother arranged for her to meet with managers before advising her that her income should be protected by numerous trust funds.
A company named Vanjoy was created, which received Amorosi’s royalties and paid his expenses at the height of his fame.
The court heard that Amorosi’s career peaked in 2000 and the years immediately following, when she released a string of hit singles.
Mr Solimon said Amorosi was entitled to a larger share of the Boundary Road property and the trust holding his California home.
Vanessa Amorosi has charted an impressive musical career across the world starting in 1999.
Mrs Robinson and her husband Peter, who Amorosi considers her father, continue to live at a property in McKenzie Lane, Narre Warren North, which the couple bought in 1997.
Mr Solimon said the Boundary Road property, purchased in 2001, was currently owned equally by Amorosi and her mother, but he argued she should own it.
The cabin had originally been used by the singer to write and practice her music before falling into a state of disrepair.
The property was purchased with more than $3 million Amorosi earned and invested in Vanjoy in the early 2000s, Mr. Solimon said.
Amorosi denied ever gifting the property to her mother, who she said always referred to it as “her dream house.”
“There was never any question that I was going to give him a house as a gift. She had a house. We all lived there…but I knew Boundary Road was her dream house and it was 20 acres and it was the house she loved and so we all moved there as a family and we had many conversations over the years when I purchased. things about making a deal where we could trade… but never this deal to give me $650,000 in trade 20 or so years later,” she said.
In November 1999, Vanessa Amorosi released the hit single Absolutely Everybody, which catapulted her to instant stardom.
The court heard that Amorosi’s mother had been responsible for setting up and protecting her daughter’s finances for her benefit.
“These were structures put in place – Vanessa was told this, and it’s clear, for her benefit at a time in her career when she had been extraordinarily successful; and young and so different structures had been put in place place, or if those who should have protected her had done so honestly, there would be no controversy 22 years later,” Mr. Solimon said.
The experienced lawyer said Amorosi wanted the Boundary Road property and his father-in-law removed as trustee in charge of controlling his property in the United States.
“At the material time, Vanessa was between 18 and 20 years old. She was entitled to think that her mother was doing what she said, which protected her interests,” said Mr. Solimon.
Amorosi spent hours on the witness stand, fighting back tears as he remembered his abusive father and his love for his stepfather Peter.
The singer had great success in 1999 with the release of her debut single, “Have a Look”, which reached gold status in Australia.
The following year, she achieved international success with her debut studio album, The Power.
Amorosi performed at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
His performance of “Heroes Live Forever” at the opening ceremony received international acclaim.
But it was his song “Absolutely Everybody” that became an unofficial anthem of the games and became a major hit in Australia and many European countries, including Britain and Germany.
His combined album and single sales have exceeded two million worldwide.