Hackett estate doesn’t own open space in Aspen, complaint says
ASPEN – The estate of late comedian Buddy Hackett is being taken to court over its ownership of a small piece of Aspen open space. Attorney Michael Hoffman said the civil complaint, which was filed last week on behalf of property owners Red Butte LLC and 1260 Red Butte LLC, is simply a formality. It asks a judge to issue a decree making clear who the owners of the land in question are.”We’re just asking the court to clean this up,” Hoffman said Monday.At issue is the Estate of Buddy Hackett and trustee Sherry Hackett’s legal ownership of two-fifths of 1.026 acres of riverfront open space on Red Butte Drive, located at the bottom of Cemetery Lane on the Roaring Fork River. Sherry Hackett is the widow of Buddy Hackett.In 1993, Dr. Charles Gaylord, of Denver, the developer of a five-lot subdivision off Red Butte Drive, executed a quit-claim deed for the open space, conveying one-fifth interests to the lot owners. Hackett owned two of those lots and, in turn, received two-fifths interests of the open space, the suit says.In September 1999, Hackett sold his two lots to plaintiff Aspen Development LLC. Aspen Development, in March 2002, sold one of the lots to plaintiff Red Butte LLC. The other lot changed ownership several times, before plaintiff 1250 Red Butte LLC acquired it in June, the suit says. But while the ownership of Hackett’s lots is now in different hands, county property records show the two-fifths interests in the open space remain under the ownership of the Hackett estate, the suit says. “When Buddy Hackett sold to the development company in 1999, they forgot to convey those open-space interests,” Hoffman said. Even so, for at least the past seven years, plaintiffs Red Butte LLC and 1260 Red Butte LLC have paid taxes on the open space they purport to own, according to the complaint.Hoffman, an attorney at Aspen firm Garfield & Hecht PC, said going to court is the best way to settle the issue.”I wouldn’t have brought the lawsuit, but I couldn’t get this accomplished any other way,” he said, noting that he has been in discussions with Sherry Hackett and her attorney, “but their lives are complicated, our lives are complicated, and we couldn’t get this done any other way. Sometimes you just have to go through the courts.”Hopefully we’ll come to a settlement in a very short period.”Hackett and his wife were part-time Aspen residents for some 23 years. He once sang Aspen’s praises – by collaborating with Aspen resident Jack Brendlinger – on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” bringing a cooler with “Aspen” written on the side onto the set. The film and stage star told Carson he brought some Aspen snow for him and threw “snowballs” that were actually made of Styrofoam. Hackett died June 30, 2003, at his home in southern California. He was firstname.lastname@example.org
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