Stan Lee is Being Robbed Blind

Remember that story about how some nurses alleged that Stan Lee was sexually harassing them? I’m still convinced it was bullshit, but it was apparently used as a pretext to cut Stan off from Max Anderson, one of his oldest friends. Veteran comic artist Neal Adams, famous for legendary turns as the artist on Green Lantern and Batman, was one of the first people to bring this to the attention of the public.

Adams also brought the matter to the attention of comic book-focused website Bleeding Cool, giving this statement.

Can somebody tell me what’s going on with Stan Lee?

Max Anderson has taken care of Stan Lee like a mother all through his senior years. Some people don’t like Max because Max protects Stan just like a mother, but that’s his job. Some people don’t like that Stan treats Max well financially and so Max has money. Well, dammit folks, Max is supposed to have money. That’s Stan Lee’s decision.

Somebody is keeping Max from Stan and I know Stan must be the worse for it and so I’m worried very much for Stan Lee. I wasn’t worried when Max took care of him. So what the hell is going on?

And writer/director Kevin Smith, after his stint in the hospital for his heart attack, was unable to get in contact with Lee, saying all the numbers he had for the creator of Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four were out of service.

Peter David, affectionately known as PAD by comics fans, is famous for lengthy runs as the writer of The Incredible Hulk and X-Men spin-off X-Factor, as well as dozens of Star Trek novels. Early this month, he weighed in on Stan and his separation from Max Anderson.

But I can speak about Max, that’s for damned sure. Because I’ve been a friend of Stan’s for decades, and have had plenty of opportunities to watch Max with Stan at various conventions. And I can tell you right now that whatever bad things you may hear people saying about Max concerning Stan: Don’t believe it.

I’ve watched Max manage Stan at conventions for the last fourteen years. In addition to being a tireless supporter of Stan, including organizing and selling all manner of Stan Lee merchandise that has pumped tons of money into Stan’s pocket, I have watched Max treat Stan the way a good son treats his beloved father. Max doesn’t hesitate to put himself between Stan and overeager fans, creating a bubble of space so Stan doesn’t get crushed by well wishers. I’ve seen Max arrange at conventions for a comfortable couch/rest area to be set up so that Stan has somewhere to go in order to take a nap between panels and autograph fests.

Some years ago, at Dragon*Con, I presented the Julie award (name for Julie Schwartz) to Stan. Now there’s no stairway directly from the ground to the stage; you have to come around and use a side entrance. Disdaining that, Stan–who was in his eighties–vaulted from the floor up onto the stage. I saw a hilarious photograph of Stan leaping onto the stage while the people from his table ran up behind him to spot him in case he pitched backwards. Max was the first one out of his chair.

Max has cared for Stan, watched over his business and health concerns for over a decade. He does not deserve to be kept away from Stan, and he certainly doesn’t deserve to be savaged by fans for any reason. Max is a great guy.

Now The Daily Beast has a story about how Stan the Man, now 95 and sick with pneumonia, and his daughter, are being robbed blind by the people who are supposed to be caring for him.

So what is really going on with Stan Lee? Essentially, as you may have noticed, Stan Lee has a lot of friends. Pretty much everyone likes him, and before he was Stan the Man, he was Smilin’ Stan Lee. His charm and charisma are undeniable, and his force of personality made him a celebrity long before Iron Man made Marvel Comics part of the larger cultural zeitgeist. I’m given to understand his daughter JC is every bit as friendly and charismatic as her father.

But that trusting nature and friendly demeanor have a downside, and that is that Stan and JC are easily taken in by less than savory characters. Here’s what a friend of the family told The Daily Beast about JC’s spending habits.

“When I’m with her, the stores on Rodeo are calling: ‘Why didn’t you come in today? We have something for you.’ And she feels guilty if she doesn’t spend thousands of dollars a week in Barney’s. She walks in and they all know her; I don’t know how much of Beverly Hills is living off her. My concern is that when he goes, the way she spends money, it’s all gonna go away, and then she’s gonna be out on the street.”

What exactly is happening here? Well, for starters, Stan Lee probably isn’t as rich as you think he is. While he, along with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Stan’s brother Larry Lieber, created pretty much every character in the Marvel films other than The Guardians of the Galaxy, they didn’t have any ownership and Marvel didn’t start paying royalties until much later. Stan is no fool. He certainly amassed a fortune with public appearances and licensing, but Robert Downey, Jr. has probably made more money playing Iron Man than Stan made in his entire career at Marvel, even including the $10 million he got from Marvel’s sale to Disney.

Aside from that, the money Stan does have is being swindled away from him people The Daily Beast described as “charlatans and mountebanks”. Specifically, three apparently fraudulent transactions have cost Stan and JC millions.

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.

There have also been a number of smaller checks written to Olivarez, who briefly managed to gain Lee’s power of attorney after the death of his wife Joan. Tobey Maguire’s brother Vince is leading a team of forensic accountants to sort out where Stan’s money went to and working on getting it back, so that’s good. Hopefully things get sorted out and Stan and JC are taken care of.

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