The Strange Story of Jack Kerouac's Estate

A mama's boy, a will that's a forgery, and '100 Greek relatives'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2009 1:30 PM CDT
The Kerouac House is seen in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008. This house was once the home to beat generation author Jack Kerouac.   (AP Photo/John Raoux)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – When Jack Kerouac died, wallowing in alcohol and obscurity, the bank estimated his estate’s value at $1. He left everything to his mother, and when she died, she left it to Kerouac’s third wife, Stella Sampas—or so everyone believed. Recently a Florida court ruled Gabrielle Kerouac's will a forgery. But thanks to an earlier summary judgment, the $20 million estate, which Stella’s family inherited after her death, is staying put.

When Kerouac’s disowned daughter Jan saw the will, she immediately suspected it was a forgery. “It was all weird and scraggly and misspelt,” she told the Telegraph. But Jan died before the case could be resolved, and a judge issued a summary ruling legitimizing the Sampas family’s claim. Only then did Kerouac’s nephew turn up with a letter in which the late author said he didn’t want to leave “a dingblasted fucking goddamn thing to my wife’s one hundred Greek relatives.” It was too late; the ruling stands.