What Happened to the Menendez Brothers Money?

March 30, 2024

The Menendez brothers were convicted of murdering their parents in 1989 and are now serving two life sentences without parole. Their defense argued that years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their father drove them to kill Jose and Kitty Menendez in their Beverly Hills mansion. But what exactly happened to their money?

The family lived the classic American dream of the '80s. Their father, Jose, was an entertainment executive who led the U.S. operations for Hertz car rental and was involved in signing bands like Duran Duran, Eurythmics, and Menudo. He treated his sons like extensions of himself, telling them how to dress and which friends they could and couldn't hang out with. He even donated $50,000 to ensure that Lyle got into Princeton so he could become the ultimate status symbol.

When the Menendez parents were murdered, their estate was valued at about $14.5 million. But taxes, legal fees, and inflated real estate appraisals wiped out much of that. In fact, by April of 1994, the executors of the estate—one of Jose's sisters and her husband—claimed that the entire fortune was "almost entirely run through."

The remaining assets were a house in Calabasas, some jewelry and a few pieces of furniture. The brothers had blown through most of that by the time they were arrested. As for the $2 million in life insurance that they inherited, it was actually worth far less than they expected. One of Erik's friends said he and his brother thought they would get closer to $90 million.

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