Devoted couple: Heather and Ted Lustig at a Melbourne Cup celebration.
Love pact shackles wealthy widow
Craig Binnie

THE widow of one of Australia's richest men has been shackled to a life without love by her dead husband.

Heather Lustig will have to give up her $75,000-a-year cash allowance, jewels and other possessions if she begins a new relationship.

Her property tycoon husband, Ted Lustig, died last year, aged 85, when he fell in a backyard pond - but their pre-nuptial agreement still stands.

The love pact was signed just before the couple married in 1994 when Mr Lustig was 77. Heather was about 10 years younger.

Mr Lustig, owner of Melbourne's Hyatt hotels, was estimated to be worth $150 million when he died.

The agreement guaranteed Mrs Lustig an $800,000 house and a $75,000 after-tax allowance each year for the rest of her life if she remained married to Mr Lustig until he died.

She was to get the same benefits if he divorced her.

If Mrs Lustig initiated a divorce or lived away from Mr Lustig for more more than 60 days without an adequate excuse, her benefits would have been halved to a $400,000 house and $35,000 a year.

Four years later Mrs Lustig gave up any claim to a house in return for $400,000 cash.

But she stands to lose her allowance, the jewels and other possessions if she ever enters into a "marriage-like" relationship - even now that her husband is dead.

Mrs Lustig had to move out of their mansion in Heyington Place, Toorak, within six months of Mr Lustig's death so it could be returned to his daughter, Iris, by his first marriage.

Mrs Lustig is believed to be living in Surfers Paradise and could not be contacted.

The pre-nuptial agreement also prevented her from claiming any of his business assets. And she must give back the possessions received from Mr Lustig when she dies.

While most of Mr Lustig's estimated $150 million fortune is locked in trusts, his will directed the contents of his house to be split between Mrs Lustig and Iris, 59.

Mr Lustig's death was investigated by a coroner this year. Coroner Francis Hender found he died after falling backwards into his garden pond, striking his head on the pond's brick border.

"Mr Lustig continued to fall back until his head was completely submerged under the water," the report said.

"Mrs Lustig witnessed the fall but was unable to lift him out or raise his head above the waterline. Police and emergency services were called, but Mr Lustig was deceased."

Former premier Jeff Kennett described Mr Lustig as a "cantankerous old bastard" in the foreword to the property tycoon's autobiography.


Mr Lustig had Iris with his first wife, Sarah, who died in 1982.

His grandchildren Guy, Nathalie and Jay were left just $115,000 each, but they and their mother are believed to be the main beneficiaries of Mr Lustig's trusts.

Their father, property developer Max Moar, is estimated to be worth more than $100 million.

Mr Moar and Iris Lustig separated about 12 years ago but continue to run the Lustig-Moar property development empire.

Mr Moar owns 50 per cent of Lustig Moar, the company that built the Hyatt hotels and numerous other city buildings.

The contents of the Lustigs' Toorak mansion were valued at more than $2 million in 1990.

When Mr Lustig died he had $75,428 in the bank, owned $15,459 in shares and was owed $14,985, according to estate documents lodged with the Supreme Court.

Mr Lustig's collection of Australian art was valued at more than $1 million in 1990 and included work by William Dobell, Arthur Boyd, Leonard French, Edward Hornel, Arthur Streeton, Fred Williams, Eric Wilson, Sidney Nolan and John Perceval.

His three watches -- a Piaget bracelet watch featuring 234 diamonds and fob watches by Piaget and Jaeger Le Coultre -- were worth $98,000.

The estate documents reveal the Lustigs slept in a $22,800 king-size bed with an inbuilt television on an electronic lifting and retrieving device.

They ate at a $14,000 dining table off a 12-place Royal Crown Derby dinner set valued at $27,000, using cutlery worth $34,000.

If only the family was in for dinner, the Royal Doulton dinner set may have been used instead. It was worth about $8000.

The couple relaxed on a modest $3800 sofa and rested their Venetian-made coffee cups ($4800 the set) on a $5000 Italian Cellini coffee table.

The couple could have watched one of the German-made televisions dotted around the house or listened to music on the $10,000 stereo.

Having a drink was never a problem with 18 champagne flutes, 30 red wine glasses, 30 liqueur glasses, 12 port glasses, 12 sherry glasses, 12 whisky tumblers and a dozen old tumblers with a total value of $13,000.

Mr Lustig was born in Vienna and grew up in Palestine. He moved to Australia in 1956 during the Melbourne Olympics.

At his 75th birthday party, he was reported as saying: "This is a very nice gathering, but I just hope Iris has kept within the budget."