‘Picked Apart by Vultures’: The Last Days of Superhero Maker Stan Lee

By MARK EBNER / Posted on March 13, 2018

Months after losing his wife, the 95-year-old comic book legend is surrounded by charlatans and mountebanks.

You might expect Stan Lee, at age 95, to be enjoying the fruits of his many labors: Marvel Comics, the company he served as the former president and chairman of, dominates popular culture. Characters he co-created — among them Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men, and the Avengers — are household names. He’s a comics legend, with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When Marvel sold to Disney in 2010 for $4 billion, he personally pocketed a cool $10 million, and tours the world as its ambassador emeritus. And midway through his tenth decade, Black Panther, based on a character he and Jack Kirby first envisioned in 1966, currently sits atop the global box office charts, and carries a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%.

Instead, seven months after the death of Joan, his wife of almost 70 years, beset with pneumonia, the apparent victim of gross financial malfeasance and surrounded by a panoply of Hollywood charlatans and mountebanks, he may be facing his greatest challenge, every bit the equal of any of the psychologically flawed superheroes he helped shepherd into being. According to one insider with working knowledge of Lee’s current situation, “It’s a real fucking mess over there. I think his money will be gone in a few weeks… Stan and [his daughter] JC are literally being picked apart by vultures.”

In just over two months, there have been published reports of an unauthorized check for $300,000 written from Lee’s business account without his knowledge to Hands of Respect, a “merchandising company” and ersatz charity formed by Lee and Jerry Olivarez, a former business associate of his daughter’s. The word “loan” is inscribed on the face of the check.

Other red flags included the purchase in the fall of 2017 of an $850,000 condo in West Hollywood a short distance from Lee’s home in the Hollywood Hills; and $1.4 million that mysteriously disappeared in a complicated wire-transfer transaction. Most dramatically—and according to published reports— police on February 16th were called to Lee’s home to remove long-time bodyguard Mac “Max” Anderson, often seen accompanying Lee at his lucrative live appearances, after he allegedly threatened Lee and his daughter. Anderson’s attorney declined to comment for this story.

Lee did not return a request for comment. But incredibly, according to multiple sources, even this may be the tip of the iceberg. A half dozen anonymous former nurses have accused Lee of sexual impropriety; Lee denies the allegations. One or more five-figure checks have been made out to Olivarez, money leaking out of larger financial transactions, mysterious bank transfers, and questionable real estate purchases. Under particular scrutiny is the period when Olivarez was briefly able to gain power of attorney over Lee’s affairs in the chaos surrounding the death of Lee’s wife. Forensic accountants (among them Tobey Maguire’s brother Vince) are currently ferreting through over a thousand pages of financial records from the eight individual estates, corporate entities and trusts comprising Lee’s holdings. And that’s not even including the private collector of Marilyn Monroe and Abraham Lincoln memorabilia who has materialized to lead the resistance against the forces of darkness.

JC (Joan Celia) Lee, 67, Stan’s daughter and sole heir, was born in 1950. (A second daughter, Jan Lee, was born three years later, but died several days after birth.) “She was totally enamored with her parents,” says the Lee family insider, “totally in love with them. It’s a very close and fraught relationship. When I was with her, she would call her mother and father every few hours throughout the day—sometimes talking to them almost like a baby, and other times screaming at them like a teenager. And she’s never met a con man she doesn’t like, you know?”

The insider continues, “Stan is not a whole lot better. Maybe their contemporaries and friends are all dead, and now they just have a bunch of hangers-on and sketchy-ass people hanging around. I have the feeling that he has been taken by everyone in the world. I was talking to this guy at a party with them, and he walks away, and somebody says, ‘That’s the motherfucker who took pictures of Whitney Houston when she was dead in her bathtub.’ That’s the kind of people that hang around them.”

Read more about this story on The Daily Beast