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Zaha Hadid’s Will Disclosed

Dame Zaha Hadid has left around £70 million in her will, it was disclosed recently. Hadid was the first woman to win the Pritzker architecture prize and was twice awarded with the RIBA Stirling prize, the most prestigious British architecture award. The bulk of her wealth, from her international design firm Zaha Hadid Architects, of which she was the sole owner, has been left in trust.

The celebrated architect, who died suddenly last March after suffering a heart attack in a Miami hospital at the age of 65, was unmarried with no children. Her will, according to documents published by the Architects’ Journal, sets out a lump sum of £500,000 to her business partner, Patrik Schumacher (the only non-family member to benefit from the will). Other beneficiaries include her brother Haytham, niece Rana and nephew Hussein, who were left £500,000 each, as well as her other niece Tala and nephew, Nik Williams, who were given £100,000 each.

The remainder of her fortune will be administered by four executors: Patrik Schumacher, Hadid’s niece Rana Hadid, artist Brian Clarke and former Serpentine Gallery chairman and Conservative peer Lord Palumbo, who were given 125 years from the date of Hadid’s death to distribute her wealth. If the executors fail to agree on how Zaha Hadid’s holdings should be distributed within that period, it will be given to the Zaha Hadid Foundation.

Experts suggest that it’s likely that Hadid also left a letter of wishes, defining how she wanted to distribute the remainder of the estate among the beneficiaries, who also include “past, current and future employees” of her companies; descendants, “spouses of my descendants”; “any charity” and indeed “any person added to the class of beneficiaries by the trustees”. However, this is not a public document.

Ceris Gardner, partner at private wealth law firm Maurice Turnor Gardner, told the Architects’ Journal: “The executors [have] the power to split it up as they want to; divide as they want to. They could give the whole lot to the charity; they could give the whole lot to the family; they could give the whole lot to Patrik; depending on what they choose to do and – more importantly – how they are guided by the letter of wishes.”

Will they be capable of reaching an agreement over Zaha Hadid’s estate? There have been signs of friction between the will executors after Schumacher’s speech at the World Architecture Festival last November, calling for public space and social housing to be scrapped as the solution to London’s housing crisis, an opinion that the other three executors “totally disagree” with, stating that Hadid herself would “have been totally opposed to these views and would have disassociated herself from them”.

None of the executors have so far commented on the distribution of the late Hadid’s fortune, according to her will.

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