Home Australia Zhenya Vernon Makes Big Claim for Daniele Legler’s Millions After Claiming They Had a Sexual Relationship

Zhenya Vernon Makes Big Claim for Daniele Legler’s Millions After Claiming They Had a Sexual Relationship

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A battle is raging in Australia over the estate of European actor Daniele Legler (pictured left on the set of the German TV show Kreuzfahrt ins Glück)

His Australian personal assistant has filed a claim over the multimillion-dollar inheritance of a well-known European actor, claiming their relationship became sexual.

Daniele Legler, who was born in Italy and raised in Switzerland, died in April 2022 aged 72 and left a “substantial estate” with assets in New South Wales, Portugal, Liechtenstein and Malta.

Melbourne-based Zhenya Vernon met Legler, 30 years her senior, when she helped him obtain a visa to Australia to visit his two young children from a previous marriage.

Vernon, who was born in Russia but is an Australian citizen, claimed in the New South Wales Supreme Court that the couple were in a de facto relationship and had been living together at their beachside home in Portugal for six years before her death. .

But the eldest of Legler’s five children, Nadja, 31, argued in court that Vernon was trying to take away their “rightful inheritance.”

In a ruling handed down this week, Judge Pike ruled that while Vernon appeared to be “motivated by self-interest and financial gain,” she also had a valid claim.

A battle is raging in Australia over the estate of European actor Daniele Legler (pictured left on the set of the German TV show Kreuzfahrt ins Glück)

Russian-born Zhenya Vernon, who moved to Australia 20 years ago, was Legler's assistant but claims they had a de facto relationship.

Russian-born Zhenya Vernon, who moved to Australia 20 years ago, was Legler’s assistant but claims they had a de facto relationship.

Vernon bills herself as a visa consultant, and court documents show emails sent by Legler to friends that describe her as efficient and capable.

She moved to Australia in 2004, aged 24, with her ex-husband, a British citizen, and in 2012 obtained a diploma qualifying her to work as an immigration agent.

She is also the author of a fitness book titled ‘How to Love Getting the Shape You Want: Why Feeling Good and Looking Great Opens More Doors’ and has competed in bodybuilding competitions.

Legler has appeared in more than 30 films and television productions in Europe and in his later years worked as an acting teacher, traveled the world and led workshops.

His work as an actor along with family money courtesy of his father Fredy, who was president of the Legler Textile Group known for its cotton and denim production, had allowed him to amass a considerable fortune.

Much of that wealth is held in property along with bank and cryptocurrency accounts in Europe and Australia.

Mr. Legler’s eldest daughter, Nadja, is one of three children from his first marriage, while his two youngest children from his second marriage were born during a brief period when he lived in Australia, on the north coast of New South Wales.

Nadja told the court she did not know her father and Ms Vernon’s relationship was anything other than professional.

However, after she was shown emails and text messages sent by him to his friends, she admitted there may have been a “sexual” aspect, but she still didn’t believe they were together.

“She considered that what Zhenya was doing in these proceedings was trying to deceive her and her siblings out of their rightful inheritance,” Judge Pike said.

One of the emails sent by Legler to a friend, Dr. Alberto Ferrari, in 2018 described the couple’s relationship.

“Zhenya is great, she does almost everything… she is capable, she is directive, diplomatic, she organizes meetings, she deals with the Russian House, the Russian Government and Oz, she has contacts in both countries, and now even with the Middle East.” ,’ wrote Mr. Legler.

‘I consider her a secret person, a friend, and lately a little more: …ah ah!! A leopard cannot change its spots…

“But I’m 68 and there’s some money, she knows that.”

Legler (left) on the set of another production

A signed photo of the actor.

Legler had “considerable” wealth from family money and from working as an actor for three decades. He had recently been giving master classes around the world.

Ms Vernon met Mr Legler as a visa adviser when he was arranging a visit to his Australian children from a previous marriage.

Ms Vernon met Mr Legler as a visa adviser when he was arranging a visit to his Australian children from a previous marriage.

The court also heard testimony from Ms. Vernon’s friend, Yevgeniy Kushkin, whom she has known since 2003 and is a business owner and former deputy director of International Relations at Sverdlovsk Film Studios in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

He told the court that when the couple were visiting Russia for Legler to teach an acting masterclass, he had told her: “I love Zhenya.” She is very important to me.’

“Now that I’m with Zhenya… our lives are centered in Australia… I plan to return to Australia soon to see my twins.”

However, the court also heard that Ms Vernon kept in contact with an on-off boyfriend based in Australia while she was in a relationship with Mr Legler and that she sent him a text message after Mr Legler’s death to say: “By the way, the Swiss is dead.” this Friday’.

The court also heard that the day after Mr Legler died, she withdrew $35,000 from her Australian account at Westpac, followed by another $22,300 days later.

He also withdrew €63,000 ($A102,076) from a joint European account shortly after his death.

Judge Pike also had reservations about Mrs Vernon’s credit, describing her as an “unsatisfactory and untraceable witness”.

“Zhenya repeatedly refused to answer the question she was asked, instead giving long speeches that she believed would help her case,” he said.

Despite his concerns, Judge Pike ruled that he was satisfied that, while the couple traveled frequently, they both considered the residence in Portugal their base of operations and that they, in fact, lived there together.

‘I am satisfied that the relationship remained standing at the date of the Deceased’s death,’ he stated in his decision.

“She was his de facto within the meaning of the relevant legal provisions.”

Judge Pike appointed an independent person as administrator of the will.

The matter will return to court in July to hear a claim for costs.

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