Heir to Johnson & Johnson fortune dies at 76

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 4, 2013 at 11:27 am •  Published: April 4, 2013

The children contested the will, saying they did it on principle. They depicted their stepmother as a gold-digger who used fraud, threats and abuse to coerce her ailing 87-year-old husband into signing a new version of the will and said he was not of sound mind when he did so.

He signed it six weeks before he died of prostate cancer after having changed it many times in the preceding years, each time giving more and more of his estate to his third wife.

Johnson disputed the portrayal made by her husband's children. She said her late husband chose to leave them out of his will because he had given them trust funds years earlier. She also argued that he didn't want to leave them more money because he was disappointed by what she called their greed and "scandalous behavior."

A settlement was reached in 1986 under which she kept more than $300 million, with the remaining going to Johnson Sr.'s children, the oceanographic institute, taxes and legal fees.

Johnson was not known in her homeland until the fall of communism in 1989, when she stepped in and offered millions of dollars to save the bankruptcy-threatened shipyard in Gdansk that had been the center of Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa's pro-democracy Solidarity movement.

On one occasion she was given an enthusiastic welcome by workers at the massive shipyard, even though her plan to save it fell through.

A biography provided by her lawyer focused primarily on Johnson's philanthropic and art-related activities. It noted that her paintings are loaned to museums worldwide and that she set up the Barbara Piasecka Johnson Foundation in 1974 to help the sick and needy, including people with autism.

It said she donated her large art collection to her foundation to sell, and that proceeds went to help people with autism.

A funeral Mass is planned for April 15 in the Wroclaw cathedral, after which Johnson will be buried at a cemetery in the city, according to her death notice.

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