The Department of Justice files that detail her 1996 bankruptcy filing also note her lack of understanding of her financial woes.
“She did not know why she was in bankruptcy,” an unidentified chapter 11 examiner wrote in a 1996 report that was part of the government file obtained by the Associated Press under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The files offer a glimpse into the life of the late former Playmate whose public image was exemplified by a 1994 New York magazine cover picturing her in white cowboy boots and eating from a bag of Cheez Doodles, with the headline “White Trash Nation.”
Assets noted in her file include a Russian lynx coat appraised at $43,343.75 and a necklace with a 500-carat sapphire, but also six potbellied pigs and a $12,000 doll collection. A safety deposit box at a New York bank held nearly $1 million in jewellery, but also a bottle of her perfume and a copy of her calendar. And while filings list $154,142 in income from modelling and royalties in 1994 and $274,514 the next year, left unpaid were taxes in numerous jurisdictions and even a gas bill for $265.63.
Smith’s bankruptcy filing came after the 1995 death of her billionaire husband J Howard Marshall and put in motion a court battle over his fortune that has continued even after her death. Also detailed in the files is Smith’s apparent loss of some $2.7 million in jewellery, including two pieces valued at nearly a half-million dollars apiece: a ring with three diamonds, including one weighing 8.45 carats, and a platinum necklace with 226 diamonds totalling nearly 74 carats. The whereabouts of both were never determined, nor is it known if they were stolen.
In the bankruptcy examiner’s report, the writer often expresses exasperation with Smith, saying she appears drugged during the interview and takes additional pills in the course of the meeting at her home.
Aside from the newly released government files, details of Smith’s troubled personal life have also been emerging through the legal problems of her friends. Two of her doctors and her lawyer-boyfriend pleaded not guilty last month to drug conspiracy charges accusing them of illegally providing her sedatives and opiates.