67-year marriage crumbles, divorce reads like thriller with sex, greed, deceit

Beginning with a dream, a typewriter, a Brownie camera and rubber cement, Burt and Lucille Handelsman built a real estate empire that encompasses some of the toniest shops on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, restaurants in Delray Beach, bars in Key West and retail complexes in upstate New York.

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Then, last year, after 67 years of marriage, Lucille, known as "Lovey," filed for divorce.

With an estimated $750 million in far-flung real estate holdings at stake, the 88-year-old Lovey knew she had made a seismic decision and prepared for the worst.

As she expected, the divorce now unfolding in Palm Beach County Circuit Court is likely to be one for the record books, even in a county where contentious multi-million-dollar divorces are as common as shoes at Jimmy Choo — one of the Handelsmans' Worth Avenue tenants.

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Burt Handelsman, 89, responded to his wife's action by refusing to move out of their Worth Avenue apartment and balking at her request for temporary support. He then sued the couple's three adult children, claiming they pushed their mother to divorce him as part of a twisted plan to line their own pockets. Not to be outdone, the children sued back, claiming their father bilked them out of roughly $8 million.

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