Houston rock icon’s widow dusty hillthe legendary ZZ Top bassist who died last year, is speaking out following an estate sale of the star’s possessions which she says she never knew or approved of, and has decided to sue in justice.
Her discovery of the sale which she says she never authorized and was promoted as part of the Dusty Hill estate and family, has ‘devastated’ Charleen Hill – Dusty’s wife of almost 20 years – and left her “in tears”, she told CultureMap in an exclusive interview.
In a cease and desist letter filed in Harris County District Court 215 and sent to estate sale organizers Thom Anderson, Dominique Kendall and Gilded Monkey Market, Charleen Hill states through her attorney Geoffrey Menin that she only learned of the sale after seeing media coverage such as this CultureMap story (which was immediately updated after the reported misrepresentation was discovered and after contacting Anderson), stories about our partner press releases ABC13 and other outlets across the state, and advertisements on EstateSales.net.
Hill, through his legal team, also filed a restraining order/temporary injunction in Harris County Court. “It’s a tragic story of greed and disrespect,” reads the restraining order application. “It’s also a story of unscrupulous people seeking to cash in on the name and great reputation of a Texas legend, all so they can make exaggerated sums at his expense.”
How could this happen? A June press release sent to CultureMap and other media announcing the sale made it clear that the sale was from the family and estate and included Dusty Hill’s assets. During an interview with CultureMap on June 6, Anderson emphasized the personal nature of the items for sale, citing, for example, a whiteboard featuring a self-portrait of Dusty Hill, and said the sale was a “chance to own a piece of history”. ”
Hill and Menin said they did not blame CultureMap for any of the inaccuracies in the original article, noting that “you were also misled, as were the fans”.
The letter to Anderson and Kendall claims Charleen and Dusty Hill’s estate had “absolutely nothing to do” with the sale. Hill and Menin also point out that a “substantial” amount of the furniture pictured in the EstateSales.net listing “never belonged to the Hills”, adding to a clear misrepresentation of the “family” aspect and origin of the sale. The Hill’s Woodlands home was sold in 2013, according to an affidavit provided to CultureMap.
Cease and desist letter says Gilded Monkey Market, Anderson and Kendall are in clear violation of Texas Property Code Chapter 26, which prohibits unauthorized use of a deceased person’s name in connection with advertising products , merchandising or goods – as well as the rights of Dusty, Charleen and the Hill estate.
Menin and Charleen Hill also argue that the violation even extends to ZZ Top as a group, as Gilded Monkey’s marketing materials promoting the sale and used during the sale itself featured one of the iconic logos. of the Hall of Fame trio – which they say the organizers never received permission to use.
Anderson and Kendall ignored Menin’s repeated requests for disclosure and action, Menin said. “Not in a million years would our client initiate a sale of memorabilia — or any other personal family property — on the first anniversary of Dusty’s death,” Menin wrote to Anderson and Kendall in an email. mail. “Your actions and the surrounding publicity have resulted in untold pain and suffering for Dusty’s wife, and considerable damage to her reputation.”
Worse, Menin says, Charleen got a call from her banker friend, who – upon seeing the news reports – wondered if Charleen was in “financial distress” and was now being forced to liquidate the family’s assets.
With their attempts to communicate ignored, Menin says he and local attorney Barry Flynn have now been forced to take legal action to enforce the Hill Estate’s rights under Texas law. Harris County Court quickly issued a temporary restraining order, restricting the use and distribution of funds generated from the sale.
Menin tells CultureMap that Flynn was unable to locate Anderson or Kendall to serve court documents on them. “It’s amazing,” Menin said. “They could have held the sale at some point in the future, but it would have had to be promoted honestly and appropriately.”
Anderson, at the time of this story’s publication, has yet to respond to CultureMap’s request for comment.
Menin also wants audiences to “understand who Dusty Hill was and how he always treated his fans. This sale really belittles who he was, who the family is – it would never be like that. Dusty would never do anything to allow these people to use his name to charge huge amounts of money from his fans he loved. They were attributing this sale to Dusty and they were able to get more money as a result. And it just made Charleen very sad – and also very angry.
“When I found out I must have cried for three days because Dusty was always about the fans,” Charleen told CultureMap. “It really, really bothered me because of the simple fact that we would never have done this. Considering the fact that things go back, you know, some of it 20 years, and then I found out how much they were charging. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, some things don’t even belong to us.’ I just have to tell people, ‘I’m really sorry.’ »
If ever such a sale of the Dusty Hill assets were considered, Charleen adds, it would be for a future music-focused foundation “created to help people, not make money.” Dusty has never forgotten that the fans put him in his place. We always helped the people we could. We never wanted to say it out loud because it takes away from giving. If you have to say you gave to someone, what’s the point? You do it because you want it out of the goodness of your heart, you don’t brag about it.
Charleen says she was particularly shocked that the ZZ Top logo was used to promote the sale. “I’ll tell you this,” she continues, “when we were having the band’s 50th anniversary party, the drummer’s wife and I had to ask permission to use the logo.”
This all comes as the first anniversary of her husband’s death approaches. Charleen says she’s doing her best to cope. “As it gets closer to July 28, it gets a little more surreal, for me,” she says. “I’m just pretending he’s on the road. But, I never get those phone calls… during the day, when he was on tour, he would call me a hundred times,” she fondly recalls.
She laughs when told that such news of her husband’s warm and passionate sentimentality is a little different from the ultra-cool rock star that so many fans have perceived. “You have to understand that I just saw my husband,” she said. “I didn’t see him as a rock star or ZZ Top. You know, we were pretty much attached at the hip and so it was really, really tough. I feel like I lost my twin.
Having lost her “twin,” Charleen has since left the Houston area, but is still surrounded by friends and nostalgia.
Although she misses him bitterly, she says her husband, best friend and beloved partner of nearly two decades always lets her know he’s there: “I smell Dusty all around me.”