Several years before they got married, real-estate heir Robert Durst and his second wife, Debrah Lee Charatan, considered having a child so they could get money from his wealthy family, The Post has learned.
The two went as far as drawing up legal papers, but the plan fell apart because Durst – who is now accused of a grisly Texas murder – balked at Charatan’s demand for total control of the child’s money, people who know the couple said.
In a strange twist to the tale, Durst then considered adopting Charatan, a Manhattan real-estate broker, but abandoned the idea, the sources said.
There were three main reasons for the plan, the sources said:
- Durst was furious at his family for choosing his brother, Douglas, to head the family’s billion-dollar real-estate empire.
At the time, he believed he had a fatal illness and wouldn’t live long.
If he died without an heir, the money he receives from the family trust – reportedly $3 million a year – would go back to the trust, not to any surviving wife. However, the rules of the trust provide that if Durst had a child, the child would continue to get the money.
Durst, 58, and Charatan, 44, hit on the plan after he learned in 1994 that Douglas would head the family firm.
Furious because he thought the prize belonged to him as the eldest, Robert wanted to get back at his family, the sources said.
“He really was ticked off,” said one source.
But the plan never came to fruition because Durst wanted the child to have 51 percent control of the money and Charatan 49 percent, the sources said. Charatan insisted on 100 percent control.
Subsequently, Durst considered adopting Charatan so she could get the money, but abandoned the idea as unrealistic, the sources said.
They said Charatan never revealed what fatal illness Durst believed he had, but there are no prescription drugs listed among the 102 items found in his car after he was arrested in Pennsylvania on Nov. 30.
In addition to providing insights into the workings of Durst’s mind, the plan also calls into question his motives for marrying Charatan on Dec. 11, 2000 – just weeks after Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro reopened an investigation into the disappearance of his first wife, Kathie, almost 20 years ago.
A wife can invoke spousal privilege to avoid testifying against her husband.
Durst quietly divorced Kathie on grounds of abandonment in June 1990, but never told her family.
A spokesman for the Durst trust declined to comment. Neither Charatan nor her lawyer, Steven Rabinowitz, returned calls for comment.
By Andy Geller (NY Post)