The late owner of the $1.2 billion publishing house Scholastic takes the family out of will and abandons the company
The owner of $1.2 billion Scholastic Corp. — who publishes books like “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “Magic School Bus” — passed away suddenly in early June, shockingly left the company to a former flame who works in the company.
M. Richard Robinson Jr., who died suddenly on June 5 while walking in Martha’s Vineyard, left the company to Iole Lucchese, the company’s strategy officer; not any of his sons, siblings or ex-wife, The Wall Street Journal reported
She also inherited all of his personal belongings, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed the 2018 will that outlined the succession plan, which relatives are reportedly unhappy with.
Relatives and former co-workers said Robinson, 84, and Luccesse, 54, it was an open secret that they were in a long-term romantic relationship, but said they believed the couple broke up years ago.
Robison said in his 2018 will that Lucchese, who has been with the company for more than three decades, ‘my partner and best friend.’
Scholastic Corp. publishes some of the most famous titles such as ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Clifford’, ‘Magic Schoolbus’, ‘Captain Underpants’ and others.
Family members told the paper they are looking at their legal options.
Richard ‘Dick’ Robinson (left) gifted Scholastic publishing house $1.2 billion to old flame and colleague Iole Lucchese (right)
Richard Robinson, chairman, president and CEO of Scholastic, behind, holds the first signed US edition of the book ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ during its unveiling in New York, Friday, July 15, 2005
Maurice Robinson, 86, founder and president of Scholastic Magazines Inc. (left) pictured with his son M.Richard Robinson Jr., the company’s president and chief executive officer
Robinson’s death shocked everyone. Although he was 84, he would be in good shape.
The company issued this pronunciation afterwards: ‘We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Dick Robinson.’
Dick was a true visionary in the world of children’s books and throughout his life a relentless advocate for literacy and education for children with a remarkable passion. The company’s directors and employees, as well as the many educators, parents and students whose lives he touched, mourn his loss.”
He left behind two sons – Maurice ‘Reece’ Robinson, 25, and John Benham ‘Ben’ Robinson, 34 – his ex-wife and mother of his boys Helen Benham, and siblings.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, this decision also surprised Lucchese.
“I was shocked and we weren’t expecting this,” she said.
Reece Robinson told The Wall Street Journal that he had never met Lucchese until they talked about his father’s estate last week.
He told the paper this was “like salt in an open wound,” but said: “We expect a joint approach with the estate.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that Robinson and his ex-wife Benham became close friends again during the pandemic.
JK Rowling (L) and Richard Robinson attend the HBO World Premiere of ‘Finding The Way Home’ at Hudson Yards on December 11, 2019
Scholastic President and CEO Richard Robinson speaks onstage during the 2016 Eagle Academy Foundation Fundraising Breakfast at Gotham Hall on April 29, 2016 in New York City
It’s unclear who will inherit much of the common stock, which is worth about $70 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
William Robinson, Richard Robinson’s younger brother, said in an interview that his brother and father wanted to keep Scholastic independent.
“Our family value was that we’d rather not have the financial benefit we would get from a sale if it means the company won’t be what it was in the future,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
‘Everyone knows Scholastic and has a good feeling about it and it does good things for teachers. For us it is more than just a company.’
The company declined to comment.
Scholastic Corp. publishes popular children’s books such as ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ and ‘Magic School Bus’