Hilly Kristal ran CBGB but his ex-wife Karen legally owned it until she signed it over to him in 2005 — assuming that she actually did sign it over; the document is unwitnessed and she disputes it in today’s Times, which discusses the legal struggles between her and the main beneficiary Hilly’s will, daughter Lisa Kristal Burgman, who got $3 million plus while Karen got nothing and son Dana got about $100,000. (This was examined by the Voice last year; Dana told us then that his mother did sign the papers, but forgot due to illness. [Update: Dana Kristal points out that this isn’t quite the case — see here.])
The relationship between Hilly and his ex was odd — though divorced, they worked together at the club for years, and she allegedly signed it over to him when he was having rent trouble. She says Hilly was always “crying poverty” though, in the same year she supposedly ceded ownership, Hilly told the Times his t-shirt concession was making millions. (We suspect he told her that he was fronting on the Times for the good of the business.)
The Times frames the story with the punk legacy (guest appearances by Handsome Dick and Arturo Vega!) and suggests that the squabble somehow taints it, though anyone who had to get paid by Hilly knows that fighting over money is actually an integral part of the legacy.