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Hess' Will Orders Sale Of Jets


Leon Hess, in a will filed for probate Friday in Manhattan Surrogate Court, left hundreds of millions of dollars to friends and relatives and ordered the sale of his New York Jets football team.

The oil magnate, who died May 7 at age 85, barred any member of his family from buying any interest in the Jets or participating in the team's future, "either directly or indirectly, in any capacity whatsoever."

The will states that any beneficiary of Hess' estate who challenges the executors' sale of the Jets in any way will have his or her bequest reduced by 25 percent and that sum will be redistributed as if he or she had died.

"It is my intent that my interests in the Jets be disposed of unaffected by any desire of family members to participate in the club's future ownership," the will reads.

Hess recommended that his executors hire Goldman, Sachs & Co., the investment banking firm, to manage the Jets' sale. The wish has already been carried out.

Hess also urged that team president Steve Gutman remain in charge and assist in the sale, and included a formula to compensate Gutman for his role.

The will gives Gutman $250,000 of the first $100 million of the Jets' sale price, $500,000 of the second $100 million, and $1 million for every million after that. That means that if the Jets are sold for $500 million a recent estimate of the team's worth Gutman would get $3.75 million.

The bulk of money from the sale is designated to pay off as much debt as possible. The will says Hess' interests in Amerada Hess, the giant oil company he headed, should be sold only as a last resort.

"I anticipate that the sale of my interest in the New York Jets Football Club Inc. will substantially raise the cash needs required by my executors to pay the debts, administration expenses and taxes borne by my estate," Hess said in the will.

He left the bulk of his estate to his wife, Norma Wilentz Hess, and made substantial bequests to his children. His daughters, Constance Hess Williams and Marlene Hess, get $55 million each. His son, John B. Hess, is bequeathed $60 million, plus $8.25 million as an executor of the estate.

Hess left $1 million to each of his grandchildren, and sums ranging from $50,000 to $1 million to numerous nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.

The will also provides fees of $1.5 million for two coexecutors, and $1.25 million for two other coexecutors.

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