Photo of ailing Gabor fans inheritance dispute

By Guy Adams

The photo was the final insult. Taken in the bedroom of her French Revival mansion, it showed a frail, bewildered and gravely ill Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Having been confined to an automated bed for most of the past year, she was gamely struggling to get a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne to her once-pouting lips.

The unflattering snap was handed to Reuters news agency by Gabor's husband, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, to mark his 68th birthday.

He says he circulated the picture to reassure fans that his wife, 94, still has some quality of life, despite multiple health problems that have seen her in and out of hospital since she broke her hip last year.

Part of her leg was amputated to stop the spread of gangrene in January; more recently she spent days in an emergency room, reportedly coughing up blood.

But its publication has met with a furious reaction from Gabor's only daughter, Francesca Hilton, the product of the second of her nine marriages, to hotel magnate Conrad Hilton.

She sees it as the latest provocative act in a bitter family feud.

"He releases photos of my mother in unflattering situations without hair and make-up, two things that were so important to her," Hilton said. "He is feeding her alcohol, which could be detrimental to her condition since she is on numerous medications."

The comments mark an escalation in a long-running and nasty battle between Hilton and Von Anhalt, which shows signs of turning into one of Hollywood's most undignified inheritance disputes.

Already, the duo have fought over the future of Gabor's Bel Air home and have been arguing over her medical bills. They openly dispute who has power of attorney over her financial affairs while the woman at the centre of their various claims lies in bed, dosed up on painkillers and unable to eat.

The ongoing dispute follows years of eccentric behaviour by Von Anhalt. He arrived in Los Angeles from Germany in the mid-1980s and adopted the persona of a European aristocrat, changing his first name by deed poll to Prince. He married Gabor in 1986.

Recent years have also seen him grab headlines by claiming - wrongly - to be the father of the late Anna Nicole Smith's child, and by starting a brief campaign for the governorship of California.

- INDEPENDENT

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