Big Bucks In Hilly’s Mattress

Hilly Kristal, the famed CBGB founder and punk rock impresario, was thought to have died broke when he made his final settlement in August – but according to feuding family members, he actually was worth $3.7 million. And to the surprise of likely no one, there’s a fight for it, according to the Village Voice.

Son Dana accuses his sister, Lisa Kristal Burgman, of taking advantage of their 82-year-old mother’s deteriorating mental acuity by urging Karen Kristal to sign away her rights to the corporation that ran CBGB less than three years ago. In fact, it was a corporation she wholly owned at one time.

With her name on the liquor license, Karen Kristal – despite being divorced from Hilly by the time CBGB opened – had a reputation for taking no guff from anyone.

"I was more scared of Karen than I was of the skinheads," George Tabb, a founding member of False Prophets, former CBGB employee and longtime Kristal family friend, told the Voice. "They all had this respect for her. She put on the matinees – it was her idea, and that basically started the whole hardcore movement in New York."

Sareb Restaurant Corp., which did business as CBGB & OMFUG, was wholly owned by Karen until January 2005, when she signed over the liquor license and interest in the company to Hilly – allegedly at the prodding of her daughter, who was "a fixture at Hilly’s side," according to the Voice.

Believing her ex-husband to be broke, Karen Kristal worked at the club without pay for years after the divorce, Dana Kristal told the paper. And after a slip and fall in her apartment and a series of small strokes in recent years, Karen is in dire need of medical assistance and currently gets by only on her savings and Social Security payments.

Dana and Karen say Hilly and Lisa repeatedly told them that despite hefty merchandise sales (think of those iconic T-shirts), Hilly had no notable assets.

Then he died – and his will was opened, revealing a net worth of some $3.7 million. A check of 2006 New Jersey property records showed that he bought a house in Asbury Park, N.J., for $600,000.

Karen was not included in the will, and Dana was left $100,000 in a trust. Lisa was named co-executor of Hilly’s estate, and received all of his tangible property.

So the battle has begun at least in the press, with Dana and Karen painting a damning picture of Hilly, hero to a generation of the pierced and tatted, and of his daughter, to the Village Voice.

"Well, I didn’t think my own family would double cross me for money," Karen told the weekly. "I was fair with them, so I’d always thought they’d be fair with me."

Dana reportedly is weighing his legal options and, according to the Voice, the will won’t be finalized until he signs off on it. He said he wants his mother to get the due in Hilly’s death that he never quite got around to giving her in life – recognition and compensation for her role in CBGB.

"She was waiting to get paid, and they were waiting for her to get confused," Dana told the Voice. "Even if she does get paid, she’s gonna get paid when she’s really not all there. That makes me sad. She should have gotten that money 20 years ago, when she would have enjoyed it."