Friday, September 3, 2010
McCourt 'taken aback' by wife's wishes
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt described himself Friday as a devoted husband who tried to comply with his wife's exorbitant wishes but stopped when she sought $250 million for her personal use.
Testimony on the fifth day of the divorce trial turned away from whether a postnuptial agreement should be invalidated and delved instead into the nearly 30-year marriage between McCourt and his estranged wife, former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt.
Frank McCourt, 57, said he and his wife had a "fundamental, philosophical" difference about how many homes they should have and how many advisers they should hire.
The couple had more than a half-dozen houses that, according to the terms of their postnuptual agreement, were Jamie McCourt's separate assets.
In a March 2008 e-mail, Frank McCourt told his wife the couple might be unable to carry the financial burden of the expensive homes they were accumulating, but "I am willing to figure out how to do it because I want to make you happy."
McCourt said he took out a $60 million loan on land around Dodger Stadium to help pay off the mortgages. Court documents indicated the couple has taken out more than $100 million in loans from Dodgers-related businesses to fund their lavish lifestyle.
Frank McCourt, who said he didn't like to disagree with his wife, testified he was taken aback that Jamie McCourt sought $250 million at one point.
"I told her no," he said. "It was ridiculous. I thought she was wildly overreaching."
McCourt has spent more than 15 hours on the witness stand over four days as a judge tried to decide if the team, stadium and surrounding property belonged solely to Frank McCourt, as his side argues is spelled out in the postnuptual agreement, or if the pact should be thrown out and those assets split evenly under California's community property law.
Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon also could order the sale of the storied franchise.
McCourt said he wasn't in favor of changing the marital agreement to maintain the homes as his wife's separate property and list everything else, including the Dodgers, as shared property.
"I told her point blank I thought it was absurd," McCourt recalled. "It said what's mine is mine and what's yours is ours. I thought it was patently unfair."
Eventually, McCourt acquiesced but never signed a revised agreement. In the months leading to their separation last summer and their eventual divorce filing in October, he said the marriage hinged on him kowtowing to his wife's demands to change the agreement.
"She made it a litmus test of the marriage," he said. "She said, 'If you love me, you'll sign the agreement.' The more she pushed, the more I withdrew."
The trial is slated to take a two-week hiatus and resume Sept. 20 with testimony by Jamie McCourt.