Duke University Makes Claim on Estate of Aubrey McClendon

August 25, 2016Media Mention
The Wall Street Journal

The late oil magnate Aubrey McClendon held his alma mater in such high regard that he built the headquarters of his company in the image of Duke University’s campus.

And back in Durham, N.C., the feeling was mutual: There’s the McClendon Commons and McClendon Tower, McClendon Plaza and the Kathleen Upton Byrns McClendon Pipe Organ. All told, Mr. McClendon gave more than $20 million to the school where he met his wife, sent his children and connected with the friend who would help bankroll his rise.

Now, Duke is making a claim against the Chesapeake Energy Corp. co-founder’s estate, claiming it is owed almost half the $18.75 million he recently pledged, even though he died before he could make good on it.

With documented pledges, Duke should have similar standing to Mr. McClendon’s unsecured creditors, said Laura Zwicker, a partner at Los Angeles law firm Greenberg  Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP who specializes in estate matters for wealthy clients. Government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, are paid first, followed by secured creditors, who receive the value of their collateral, she said. Whatever assets the estate has left are usually doled out proportionally to unsecured creditors as well as secured creditors whose claims were not satisfied by collateral, said Ms. Zwicker.