Gayle Benson

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Gayle Benson
Benson in 2017
Benson in 2018
Born
Gayle Marie LaJaunie

(1947-01-26) January 26, 1947 (age 73)
NationalityAmerican
OccupationBusinesswoman and sports franchise owner
Years active
Known forPrincipal owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans
Net worthUS$3.3 billion (September 2020)[1]
Spouse(s)
Nace Anthony Salomone
(m. 1967; div. 1972)
[2]
Thomas "T-Bird" Bird
(m. 1977; div. 1987)
[3]
(m. 2004; died 2018)

Gayle Marie LaJaunie Bird Benson (born January 26, 1947) is an American billionaire, businesswoman and sports franchise owner.

Following the death of her husband, Tom Benson, she became principal owner of the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL) and the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2018.[4][5][6]

Benson is the first woman to be the majority shareholder of the voting stock in both an NFL and NBA franchise.[7]

Early life[edit]

She was born Gayle Marie LaJaunie, the daughter of Francis J. LaJaunie (January 5, 1924 – July 18, 2010), and Marie Folse LaJaunie (1924-May 30, 2010).[8][9]

She grew up in Algiers, New Orleans and attended St. Joseph, St. Anthony and Holy Name of Mary schools. She graduated from Martin Behrman High School in 1966.[10][11][12]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Benson began her career in receptionist and secretarial positions while doing interior design before buying and renovating businesses with her second husband, Thomas "T-Bird" Bird. Following their divorce, Benson continued an interior decorating business called Gayle Bird Interiors, Ltd.[10][13]

In the first ten years, Gayle and her then-husband Thomas Bird, renovated one hundred properties.[14][15]

New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans[edit]

Benson became the owner of both the Saints and Pelicans following the death of her husband Tom.[16]

Benson is one of ten female NFL owners, including Sheila Ford Hamp (Detroit Lions), Kim Pegula (Buffalo Bills), Carol Davis (Oakland Raiders), Denise DeBartolo York (San Francisco 49ers), Amy Adams Strunk (Tennessee Titans), Virginia Halas McCaskey (Chicago Bears), Janice McNair (Houston Texans), Jody Allen (Seattle Seahawks), and Dee Haslam (Cleveland Browns).[17]

Tom Benson had planned on bequeathing the voting stock shares of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans to his daughter Renee Benson, grandson Ryan Benson LeBlanc, and granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc.[6][18]

On December 27, 2014, Tom Benson wrote an e-mail to his daughter and two grandchildren stating he wanted "no further contact with any of you." Gayle Benson was named his heir.[19][20]

Tom Benson's daughter and grandchildren filed lawsuits challenging his decision to name Gayle his heir, questioning his mental competency.[21][22][23]

Tom Benson was determined to be mentally competent and was allowed to change his estate and leave wife ownership of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans.[24][25][26]

Labor complaints[edit]

Rodney Henry, former personal assistant to Tom Benson, filed a lawsuit accusing the New Orleans Saints and Gayle Benson of racism and violations of federal labor laws. The lawsuit claimed that Gayle Benson had treated him with disrespect because of his race.[27][28][29] An NFL arbitrator ruled in favor of Henry and against the Saints on the labor complaint, awarding him overtime pay, a contractual payout for his dismissal, and attorney's fees. The arbitrator ruled against Henry on the claims of racism.[30][31][32]

Dixie Brewing Company, LLC[edit]

In July 2017, it was announced that Tom and Gayle Benson had finalized an agreement to buy a majority share of Dixie Brewing Co.[33] The company's brewery plant had been damaged and closed after Hurricane Katrina.[34][33] On August 7, 2018, Benson announced, with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, that Dixie Brewery would open a distribution center at the old MacFrugal's Distribution Center in New Orleans East.[35][36][37]

Personal life[edit]

She has been married three times. Her first marriage was to Nace Anthony Salomone, on April 8, 1967, which ended in a divorce and annulment in 1972.[2][10] Her second marriage was to Thomas "T-Bird" Bird, on February 14, 1977, in South Pass, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, which ended in a divorce on June 25, 1987.[3]

Gayle's third marriage was to Tom Benson, who she was married to until his death in 2018. They met at St. Louis Cathedral,while Gayle was participating at a mass.[38][39][40] They married on October 29, 2004, in San Antonio.[41][42][43]

On October 22, 2014, Gayle Benson and her husband commemorated their tenth anniversary by renewing their wedding vows at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.[44][45][46]

Philanthropy[edit]

While married, Gayle and Tom Benson funded the construction of the Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, which opened on campus on September 1, 2008.[47][48]

In January 2012, Benson and her husband were awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for their service to Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI.[49][50]

In November 2012 Gayle Benson and her husband, Tom, donated $7.5 million towards the construction of Tulane University's Yulman Stadium.[51] The playing surface is known as Benson Field.[52][53]

In 2015 the Benson family gave $20 million for cancer care and research.[54][55]

In February 2019 the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Trust donated $5 million to Jesuit High School.[56]

In March 2019 the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Trust donated $3.5 million to Second Harvest[57]

In September 2019 the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Trust donated $1 million to the campaign of Children's of Mississippi to build a playground at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.[58]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Forbes profile: Gayle Benson". Forbes. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Nace Anthony Solomone v. Gayle La Jaunie Solomone, Case No. 129-740, Division "A" (La. 24th J.D.C. March 16, 1972) ("On or about August 11, 1970, defendant, Gayle LaJaunie Salomone, abandoned petitioner by moving out of the matrimonial domicile without lawful cause and since that date has constantly refused to return and/or live with petitioner.").
  3. ^ a b Gayle LaJauine Bird v. Thomas Sinnott Bird, Sr., Case No. 86-16643, Section "K," Division "2" (Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans June 25, 1987).
  4. ^ Allee-Walsh, Brian (June 1, 2018). "First Lady of Sports in New Orleans making her presence felt early and often". sunherald.com. Sun Herald. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  5. ^ "Gayle Benson becomes Saints, Pelicans owner". ProFootballTalk - NBC Sports. March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  6. ^ a b White, Jaquetta; Vargas, Ramon Antonio (February 3, 2015). "Tom Benson ups ante in proposal to take Saints, Pelicans out of estranged heirs' trust". theadvocate.com. The New Orleans Advocate. Retrieved February 3, 2015. Benson's lawyers also said for the first time this week that the entirety of the teams do not reside in those trusts. Attorney Paul Cordes said the various trusts contain 95 percent of the shares of Benson Basketball, the holding company for the Pelicans of the NBA. The trusts also contain 60 percent of the shares of Benson Football, the holding company for the NFL's Saints. The remaining shares are held by Tom Benson, who controls all of the voting shares in both companies. Holders of nonvoting shares typically have little or no voice on corporate matters. Such shares are usually granted to individuals who are willing to invest in the company's profitability and success without receiving voting rights in the company's direction.
  7. ^ Anderson, Roy (August 10, 2018). "Saints honoring Tom Benson with helmet and jersey patches". whodatdish.com. FanSided Inc. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  8. ^ "Marie LaJaunie, Benson's mom-in-law". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. June 1, 2010. p. B3. Marie LaJaunie, the mother-in-law of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, died Sunday at her New Orleans home. She was 85. Her daughter Gayle, who married Benson in October 2004, said Mrs. LaJaunie was "dedicated to children and children's causes." "She had a passion for life," Tom Benson said. "She lived a full life, and she will be sorely missed by us all." A lifelong New Orleanian who grew up in Algiers, Mrs. LaJaunie met Francis LaJaunie, the man she would marry, when they attended Adolph Meyer Elementary School. She had to withdraw before high school because her mother had died and she had to raise her younger brother and sister. When her daughter Gayle had an interior-design firm, Mrs. LaJaunie helped her run the business side of the enterprise, and she assisted in designing and scheduling. Survivors include her husband, Francis LaJaunie; a son, Wayne LaJaunie; two daughters, Gayle Benson and Brenda LaJaunie; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. The funeral and burial will be private.
  9. ^ "Funeral Notice - LaJaunie". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. June 4, 2010. Marie Folse LaJaunie passed away on Sunday, May 30, 2010 under the care of hospice at Chateau Living Center in Kenner, LA at the age of 85. She is survived by her husband Francis LaJaunie; three children; Gayle Benson, Wayne LaJaunie, and Brenda (Bee) LaJaunie Ernst; four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Marie was a devout Catholic with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. Marie was an auxiliary member of the Legion of Mary for eight years. She was a parishioner of Divine Mercy in Kenner, LA. Relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend a Memorial Mass at LAKE LAWN METAIRIE FUNERAL HOME, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. (in Metairie Cemetery) on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 12:00 PM. Visitation will begin at 10:00 AM. until service time. Inurnment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations to a hospice of your choice or masses preferred. To sign and view the Family Guestbook, please visit www.lakelawnmetairie.com.
  10. ^ a b c Vargas, Ramon (March 15, 2018). "Plan is for Gayle Benson to succeed Tom Benson as Saints, Pelicans owner". The New Orleans Advocate. New Orleans. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  11. ^ Pope, John (October 29, 2004). "This time, the Benson boogie will be down a church aisle: A winning team". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. pp. A1, A13. In the beginning was the word, and the word was from the Book of Acts, and it was read by a soft-spoken brunette at an early Mass in April in St. Louis Cathedral. In the congregation was the recently widowed Tom Benson, who asked to be introduced to Gayle Bird after the 7:30 a.m. service. They spoke, and Benson invited her, through his assistant, to join him at a VooDoo game -- he owns the arena football franchise -- on Mother's Day. ... Margarita Bergen, the French Quarter gallery owner, not only wore Saints colors -- gold top, long black skirt -- but also had dusted her eyelids and cheeks with gold. 'It's gold, gold everywhere,' she said, gesturing broadly as she air-kissed her way through the crowd. ... Bird, who describes herself as a native of Algiers 'before it was fashionable,' graduated from Martin Behrman High School. She has built a successful business, Gayle Bird Creations, designing interiors not only for homes but also offices and hotels, as well as exquisitely coordinated Christmas trees.
  12. ^ Benson, Gayle (October 2, 2013). "Angela Hill One on One with Gayle Benson" (Interview). Interviewed by Angela Hill. New Orleans: WWL-FM Radio. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved October 2, 2013. HILL: Your life took a magnificent turn -- almost nine years ago when -- you met Tom. And we want to hear all about this sort of fairy tale life I think we envisioned for you but before that I think people would be very interested to know. That you're. You grew up on the West Bank and your you're a Marrero girl. BENSON: Algiers. HILL: Algiers. Excuse me. BENSON: Before it was fashionable. HILL: Oh I see. [Hill and Benson start to laugh] HILL: Talk to us about growing up.
  13. ^ Wright, Jasmine (July 3, 2015). "'When your family attacks you, it's kind of hard to take': Aging New Orleans Saint's owner and billionaire Tom Benson, 87, speaks out after cutting his family from $1.9 billion fortune". ethiogrio.com. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  14. ^ Roniger, Marjorie (June 22, 1985). "Decorator lives in showcase, will see home after renovation". The Times-Picayune/The States-Item. New Orleans. p. 20. 'We have renovated over 100 properties and in the past 10 years we lived in five houses.' interior designer Gayle Bird said. 'We will sell this one too when it's finished,' she added referring to her 1819 Victorian home at 1702 Valance St. in Uptown New Orleans. It was gutted and renovated in the past year, by Bird and her husband, Thomas Bird.
  15. ^ Stuary, Lettice (May 9, 1982). "The Inside Story". Times-Picayune: Dixie Magazine. New Orleans. p. 22. Bird and her husband have bought, renovated, decorated and sold about 100 houses in Uptown New Orleans. Among her interior design clients are broadcasters Angela Hill and Garland Robinette and P.M. Magazine host Lee Sinclair. 'When anyone calls me to redo a room, the first question I ask is how much she's got to spend,' says Bird. 'That way we don't have to waste time looking at $50-a yard fabric when she wants to spend $20.'
  16. ^ Finney, Peter (March 16, 2018). "New Orleans Saints' first lady Gayle Benson has come a long way as a fan". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  17. ^ https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/texans/article/Texans-owner-Janice-McNair-You-play-to-win-13726449.php
  18. ^ Sayre, Katherine; Grimm, Andy (March 12, 2015). "Benson hits back with new lawsuit - Stock in Saints, Pelicans would be stripped from trust funds". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. p. A1. Benson has maintained complete control of the Saints and Pelicans franchises by keeping all the voting shares and moving only non-voting shares into family trusts. He has 40 percent of the Saints, while his heirs' trusts contain 60 percent. The trusts own 95 percent of the Pelicans, with Benson owning only 5 percent -- though his portion constitutes all the Pelicans' voting shares. The lawsuit lays out what Tom Benson is seeking to remove from the trusts: All shares in a group of companies known as the Zelia entities, which hold interests in Benson Tower, Champions Square, Jefferson Parish real estate for Benson auto dealerships, a surface parking lot at Claiborne Avenue and Poydras Street, and other assets in Texas. All shares in Benson Football, Benson Basketball, which are the holding companies for the Saints and Pelicans. All shares in Bensco, a holding company for interests in Benson's San Antonio area dealerships and other assets. According to the lawsuit, Benson is swapping those $556 million in assets for: Real estate in Blanco County, Texas, of unspecified value. Canceled debt the trusts owe Benson totaling $94.5 million. More than $450 million in promissory notes.
  19. ^ "Saints owner suddenly spikes grandchildren, hands team to wife". New York Post. January 22, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  20. ^ Zurik, Lee (January 23, 2015). "Benson family drama, told in letters and court filings". Fox Broadcasting Company WVUE. New Orleans. Retrieved January 23, 2015. During the over 80 years of my life, I have built a rather large estate which was intended to mainly be for you all as my family. Suddenly after I remarried you all became offensive and did not act in an appropriate manner and even had arguments among yourselves which created a very unpleasant family situation which I will not stand for. It made me very unhappy and uncomfortable. This situation cannot continue at my age. Because of the facts set out above and the heart break you have caused me I want no further contact with any of you and you will not be allowed to enter the Saint's facilities or games, the Basketball facilities or Pelicans games, the Benson Towers, the T.V. facilities or the automotive facilities in New Orleans and will have no right to give directions, orders or hire or fire any of the personnel.
  21. ^ Gatto, Matt (June 29, 2016). "Gayle Benson testifies in husband's competency hearing". NBC WFIE. Evansville, IN. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  22. ^ "Tom Benson's kin testify in Saints and Pelicans owner's competency case". ESPN. June 2, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  23. ^ "UPDATE: Judge Orders Tom Benson to Undergo Mental Evaluation". Fox News. January 23, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  24. ^ Vargas, Ramon (July 27, 2018). "Outbursts in court, secret recordings, more: Inside look at Tom Benson family's legal battle". The Advocate. Baton Rouge. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  25. ^ Ley, Tom (January 23, 2015). "Suit: Saints Owner Tom Benson Is Being Manipulated By His Scheming Wife". deadspin.com. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  26. ^ "Benson: Estranged heirs tried to kill me 'for one thing'". NBC WDSU. New Orleans. May 21, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  27. ^ Vargas, Ramon Antonio (January 22, 2016). "Lawsuit: Ex-Tom Benson assistant claims he was racially harassed by wife Gayle, treated 'with disdain and disrespect'". The Advocate. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  28. ^ "NFL/NBA now have a Donald Sterling problem with Gayle Benson". saintsreport.com. January 19, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  29. ^ Putterman, Alex (January 20, 2016). "Ex-assistant alleges racist comments by Saints owner's wife". MSN. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  30. ^ "Saints must pay $384K to fired assistant of late owner Tom Benson". USA Today. McLean, Virginia. July 26, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  31. ^ Vargas, Ramon (July 26, 2018). "New Orleans Saints ordered to cough up $400K in dispute with Tom Benson's former personal aide". The Advocate. Baton Rouge. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  32. ^ Triplett, Mike (July 26, 2018). "Saints ordered to pay $400,000 to former assistant of Tom Benson". ESPN. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  33. ^ a b Vargas, Ramon (July 27, 2017). "Tom, Gayle Benson finalize deal to buy majority of Dixie Brewing Co., build new brewery". Sun Herald. Biloxi, Mississippi.
  34. ^ "The National Scene". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida. February 22, 2006. p. E3. Dixie Brewing Co. survived but owners Joe and Kendra Bruno told Modern Brewery Age 'it will be a while before the brewery is turning out beer.' The Brunos are considering offers from other brewers to produce Dixie beer. 'Dixie will rise again,' Kendra says.
  35. ^ "Dixie beer is coming home: Brewery, pub planned for New Orleans East". ABC WGNO. New Orleans. August 7, 2018. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  36. ^ Monteverde, Danny (July 27, 2017). "Benson buys Dixie Brewing Co., hopes to revive struggling brand: New brewery to be built in New Orleans". CBS WWL-TV. New Orleans. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  37. ^ Thompson, Richard (August 7, 2018). "Dixie returns: New Orleans brewery to be built at site of former MacFrugal's building". The Advocate. Baton Rouge. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  38. ^ Benson, Gayle (October 2, 2013). "Angela Hill One on One with Gayle Benson" (Interview). Interviewed by Angela Hill. New Orleans: WWL-FM Radio. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  39. ^ Langenhennig, Susan (October 22, 2014). "At home with Tom and Gayle Benson: A historic mansion becomes a regal home for the New Orleans Saints owner". nola.com. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  40. ^ "Saints owner Benson's wife, Grace, dies". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Baton Rouge. November 19, 2003.
  41. ^ Cooper, Tim (October 28, 2004). "Second Thoughts". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Little Rock, Arkansas. p. 24.
  42. ^ "Sport Check". Sun Herald. Biloxi, Mississippi. October 22, 2004. p. D2.
  43. ^ Farmer, Sam (February 2, 2005). "Champs Demand Respect". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved February 2, 2005.
  44. ^ Wing, Tyler (October 22, 2014). "Tom and Gayle Benson say, "I do" Again!". ABC WGNO. New Orleans. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  45. ^ Strachan, Sue (October 23, 2014). "Gayle and Tom Benson renew their wedding vows in celebration of their 10th anniversary". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  46. ^ "Ten Years Later, Saints Owners Tom and Gayle Benson say "I Do" Again". Fox Sports. October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  47. ^ Board, Express-News Editorial (March 20, 2018). "Benson made his mark in San Antonio". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  48. ^ "Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium". University of the Incarnate Word Athletics. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  49. ^ Pope, John (January 19, 2012). "Tom and Gayle Benson receive highest papal honor for their generosity to Catholic Church". The Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on August 6, 2018.
  50. ^ Goldstein, Richard (March 15, 2018). "Tom Benson, Tycoon Who Danced With His Saints, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  51. ^ Strecker, Mike (November 1, 2012). "Tulane names new football venue Yulman Stadium". Tulane University New Wave. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  52. ^ Tulane's field to be named for Benson – San Antonio Express-News. Mysanantonio.com (2012-11-02). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  53. ^ "Tulane stadium, field, club seats to honor donors". NBC WDSU. New Orleans. January 27, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  54. ^ Center, Foundation. "Gayle and Tom Benson Give $20 Million for Cancer Care, Research". philanthropynewsdigest.org. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  55. ^ Ahmed, Michael (November 10, 2015). "Benson family donates historic $20 million to Ochsner Cancer Institute". ABC WGNO. New Orleans. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  56. ^ "Gayle Benson to donate $5 million to Jesuit High – the largest gift in school history". nola.com. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  57. ^ "Gayle Benson donates $3.5 million to Second Harvest Food Bank". wwltv.com. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  58. ^ "Gayle & Tom Benson Charitable Foundation makes $1 million gift to Children's of Mississippi". neworleansaints.com. Retrieved September 26, 2019.

References Continued[edit]

  1. ^ White, Jaquetta; Vargas, Ramon Antonio (February 3, 2015). "Tom Benson ups ante in proposal to take Saints, Pelicans out of estranged heirs' trust". theadvocate.com. The New Orleans Advocate. Retrieved February 3, 2015. Benson's lawyers also said for the first time this week that the entirety of the teams do not reside in those trusts. Attorney Paul Cordes said the various trusts contain 95 percent of the shares of Benson Basketball, the holding company for the Pelicans of the NBA. The trusts also contain 60 percent of the shares of Benson Football, the holding company for the NFL's Saints. The remaining shares are held by Tom Benson, who controls all of the voting shares in both companies. Holders of nonvoting shares typically have little or no voice on corporate matters. Such shares are usually granted to individuals who are willing to invest in the company's profitability and success without receiving voting rights in the company's direction.
    • Sayre, Katherine (February 1, 2015). "Lawyers even dispute who owns Saints now - Asset swap on hold -- or a done deal". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. p. A1. By last year, Tom Benson owned 40 percent of the Saints, all in voting shares, while the trusts for his heirs owned about 60 percent, all in non-voting shares, Cordes said. For the Pelicans, Benson owned 5 percent, all voting shares, and the trusts for his heirs held 95 percent, all nonvoting shares.
    • Sayre, Katherine (June 16, 2015). "Judge considers Tom Benson trust change jurisdiction". nola.com. The Times-Picayune. Retrieved June 16, 2015. Tom Benson has maintained all of the power over the Saints and Pelicans franchises by owning all of the voting shares and moving only non-voting shares into family trusts. Benson owns 40 percent of the Saints, while his heirs' trusts own 60 percent. The trusts own 95 percent of the Pelicans, with Benson owning only 5 percent -- though his portion constitutes all the Pelicans' voting shares.
    • Sayre, Katherine (June 16, 2015). "Tom Benson family feud: Saints, Pelicans ownership struggle focus of hearing". nola.com. The Times-Picayune. Retrieved June 16, 2015. Benson owns 40 percent of the Saints, while his heirs' trusts own 60 percent. The trusts own 95 percent of the Pelicans, with Benson owning only 5 percent -- though his portion constitutes all the Pelicans' voting shares.
    • Sayre, Katherine (June 17, 2015). "Judge weighs moving trust fight - Lawyer: Holding companies weren't created in La. - Trustee says New Orleans court doesn't have jurisdiction". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. p. A1. Schonekas, though, argued a Louisiana court doesn't necessarily have jurisdiction because assets are located in the state. As an example, he argued, if assets in the trusts were replaced with property in Montana, it wouldn’t mean a Montana court has jurisdiction over Rosenthal. Meanwhile, he said, Benson was listed as a resident of Texas until he declared himself a Louisiana resident in January, as the litigation was getting underway. Benson's lawyers have said federal court is appropriate because Benson is a Louisiana resident and Rosenthal is a Texas resident, making it a federal case. Meanwhile, they argue, the question over Benson's rights to exchange assets is centered on federal tax law. *** Tom Benson has maintained all of the power over the Saints and Pelicans franchises by owning all of the voting shares and moving only non-voting shares into family trusts. Benson owns 40 percent of the Saints, while his heirs' trusts own 60 percent. The trusts own 95 percent of the Pelicans, with Benson owning only 5 percent — though his portion constitutes all the Pelicans' voting shares.
    • Devine, Dan (May 20, 2016). "In court, Pelicans owner claims family members 'tried to kill' him". sports.yahoo.com. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved May 20, 2016. Benson wants to remove nonvoting shares of the Saints and Pelicans from their trusts; he's allowed to do that if he replaces them with equally valuable assets, but the 'mostly promissory notes' he has offered thus far are being challenged as an 'insufficient exchange' that would short-change the trustees. The trusts hold 60 percent of the Saints and 95 percent of Pelicans, all of which is non-voting stock, with Benson maintaining sole control of the teams by owning all voting stock.
    • Harper, Zach (September 1, 2016). "Trial for Tom Benson's Saints, Pelicans ownership dispute moved to February". cbssports.com. CBS Sports. Retrieved September 1, 2016. The trusts involve include 60 percent of the Saints ownership and 95 percent of the Pelicans ownership. His grandchildren have blocked removal of the ownership shares in exchange for promissory notes because they didn't feel the stipulation of replacement for equal value was good enough.
    • Griffin, Tim (June 17, 2016). "Benson and his heirs reach settlement in contentious ownership battle". mysanantonio.com. San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved June 17, 2016. Earlier, court documents indicated that Benson said in a deposition that he removed his heirs because they tried to kill him. In the documents from the deposition, Benson said about his heirs: "You know, by picking on my wife and when I wasn't feeling very good, they were very hostile." *** The heirs' trust funds hold 95 percent of the Pelicans and 60 percent of the Saints.
    • Sayre, Katherine (June 17, 2016). "Tom Benson settles Saints, Pelicans ownership dispute". nola.com. The Times-Picayune. Retrieved June 17, 2016. The litigation involves only non-controlling stock in the franchises, meaning the shares didn't give the heirs any authority over the teams, only a financial interest. Tom Benson has remained in charge of the teams by owning all of the controlling shares. The heirs' trust funds hold 95 percent of the Pelicans and 60 percent of the Saints.
  2. ^ Hiatt, Gabe (January 22, 2015). "Spurned daughter, grandchildren sue Saints owner for writing them out of will". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
    • "Report: TX judge freezes large chunk of Benson assets". FOX WVUE. New Orleans. January 22, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2015. The suit attempts to paint Gayle Benson as a gold digger who is trying to take advantage of the Saints owner's health.
    • Duncan, Jeff (January 23, 2015). "Lawsuit Claims Tom Is Confused, Gayle Is In Over Her Head". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. p. A1. The suit portrays Gayle Benson, 67, as a gold-digging opportunist who has taken advantage of her husband's unfit state of health and ostracized family members in grasping for power and riches. *** Meanwhile, a Texas judge ordered a temporary freeze on the money and assets in a trust controlled by Tom Benson, an order requested by his daughter, Renee Benson. The temporary restraining order, signed by Judge Thomas Rickhoff of Bexar County on Wednesday, prevents Benson from withdrawing, transferring or otherwise diminishing the value of the Shirley L. Benson Testamentary Trust. Shirley L. Benson was Benson's first wife. Gayle, Benson's third wife, was preceded by Grace. The 27-page petition reveals a series of incidents Renee, Rita and Ryan claim illustrate Tom Benson's deteriorating mental and physical health. Among them: He has been heavily medicated in the past year and has 'acknowledged on occasions that he does not know his age, where he is, what day of the week it is, nor what the date is.' His mental acuity and memory have declined so much that 'on at least one occasion (he) failed to recognize his daughter, Renee,' and 'failed to remember or commemorate her birthday.' Further, it claims he recently was asked to name the current president of the United States and replied Ronald Reagan, then guessed Harry Truman on his second attempt. His diet has diminished to the point that he rarely consumes full meals and subsists mainly on 'candy, ice cream, sodas and red wine.'
    • "UPDATE: Judge Orders Tom Benson to Undergo Mental Evaluation". NBC KTVE. El Dorado, Arkansas. January 23, 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2015. The suit attempts to paint Gayle Benson as a gold digger who is trying to take advantage of the Saints owner's health. It asks the court to appoint Renee Benson as executor of Tom Benson's sports and business empire with Rita Leblanc taking a secondary position.
    • "But we do we begin this half hour with a family inheritance battle now gone public". Today Show (Interview). New York City: NBC. January 24, 2015. But we do we begin this half hour with a family inheritance battle now gone public. At stake is the ownership of both an NFL and an NBA team. This, after the current owner announced his plans to pass the team down to his current wife rather than on to his family as he'd originally planned. NBC's Janet Shamlian has more. *** It's a family feud with ownership of the New Orleans Saints hanging in the balance. *** Family members of eighty-seven-year-old current owner Tom Benson say he is incompetent. The claim coming in a lawsuit filed one day after Benson unexpectedly announced a change in the Saints' future ownership. Now saying the team will go to his third wife, Gayle Benson instead of his family. They released this statement: 'Sadly, the Benson family was forced to take this action in the best interest of Tom Benson and his legacy...and the multitude of Pelicans and Saints fans.' Benson also owns the NBA Pelicans team. The suit portrays sixty-seven-year-old Gayle Benson as a manipulative gold digger, capitalizing on her husband's failing health, claiming she keeps him heavily medicated, away from his family and has been feeding him a bizarre diet of candy, ice cream, sodas and red wine.
    • "Tom Benson deserves better than this squabble". The Daily Advertiser. Lafayette, Louisiana. January 25, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2015. Gayle Benson, as wife No. 3, is cast in the stereotypical role of gold digger out to alienate the aging father from his children and seize the riches for herself.
    • Grimm, Andy (January 30, 2015). "Prenuptial agreement wouldn't keep Gayle Benson from taking over Saints, Pelicans, expert says". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. Retrieved January 30, 2015. Renee Benson and her children filed a lawsuit seeking to declare Tom Benson incompetent to make his own decisions, and to put Renee Benson in charge of the family's fortune. Among their arguments painting Gayle Benson as a gold digger who is manipulating the family patriarch, the lawsuit notes, briefly, that when Tom Benson married the former Gayle Marie LaJaunie Bird in 2004, the couple signed the prenuptial agreement.
    • Belson, Ken (March 6, 2015). "Saints' Owner Marches Out of Step With His Heirs' Expectations". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved March 6, 2015. Is Mr. Benson feeble or frail? Is Gayle Benson a gold digger or his protector? Are his daughter and grandchildren spoiled or spurned?