It was a May-December romance when Edward Bazinet fell for Brett Jordan: He was a 73-year-old entrepreneur who amassed a $100 million fortune selling holiday miniatures, and Jordan was a real estate broker 43 years his junior. Within months of their meeting on the street in 2014, the two had moved in together. And just ten months before November 2017 death, the couple reportedly wed in a “secret” civil ceremony.
But Bazinet’s family says Jordan was just using the older man and they’re contesting a will that would leave him some $32 million.
Bazinet’s sister, Maureen Beck, claims Jordan neglected her brother, withheld his medications, diverted the funds to his own relatives and interacted “with Ed in a controlling manner which far more resembled abuse,” according to court papers.
“I’m worried,” she wrote to her brother in 2016. “I hope he is willing to live with you without owning your new apartment. Setting up a situation where he benefits upon your death with such a large gift seems unwise on a number of levels.” She maintains Jordan oversaw a number of unusual real-estate deals for Bazinet, including two apartments at 100 Barclay for $12 million, and a $15 million condo in Tribeca.
Bazinet, who was featured in Robert Frank’s Richistan, started his company, Department 56, in 1976 and sold it for $270 million in the 1990s. His popular ceramic figurines included The Original Snow Village, Dickens Village, North Pole, and the Snowbabies series.
According to Beck, after he started seeing Jordan, her brother became increasingly isolated from his family and suddenly changed plans for his estate—moving assets from a namesake foundation to his young husband. For his part, Jordan says he supported Bazinet through alcoholism and failing health visiting him daily at the NYU Langone Medical Center, until Beck had him moved to a Minneapolis hospital “in the middle of the night.”
“I cared for him because he was my husband and I loved him,” Jordan stated in court papers.
Bazinet initially left $500,000 to Jordan but later doubled that amount and added money, art and property to his bequest. Shortly before his death, though, a nearly incapacitated Bazinet allegedly signed papers canceling the changes to his will.
He was hospitalized in 2012, reportedly after a bipolar episode in which he spent more than $20 million on soap, hanger covers, art and furniture in a massive five-day spending spree.