Illegitimate daughter of fruit tycoon inherits £11m despite siblings denying her existence

The illegitimate daughter of a wealthy fruit tycoon has successfully secured her right to inherit a portion of her father’s £50 million estate despite facing opposition from her half-brother and sister who denied her paternity.

Rita Del Curto has fought for two decades to claim her share of her father David’s £50 million estate. Her half-siblings, Julian and Gloria, disputed her entitlement to the inheritance, asserting that she was not their father’s child.

The high court in London has ruled in Rita’s favor, allowing her to register an Italian court order granting her £11 million of the inheritance.

David Del Curto, a prominent South American businessman, founded a successful fruit empire after immigrating from Italy to Chile post-World War II. He was initially married to Edith and had Julian and Gloria.

David separated from Edith in 1967 and had a relationship with Alay Leventhal, Rita’s mother, from 1971 until his death in a helicopter crash at the age of 55 in 1983.

Rita, an art sales director in London, faced rejection from her half-siblings and has long sought recognition as her father’s daughter. She said:

“My life, in part, has been characterised by a constant desire to put together a puzzle of the history, character, image and life of my father…

Despite his fame and the showbiz world that surrounded him, I want to emphasise that my father never forgot about the family. He could be having dinner one day with the Queen of England and the next day doing business with Fidel Castro and between business trips, he always found time to visit family and spend time with me.”

Legal proceedings took place in both Chile and Italy, with Rita’s attempts to reopen the inheritance case in Chile in 2003 initially rejected. Her father’s Italian citizenship led to proceedings in Italy.

An Italian court ruled in Rita’s favor, awarding her two ninths of her father’s estate. Subsequently, another tribunal confirmed that Julian and Gloria were aware of Rita’s existence but knowingly denied it to avoid sharing their father’s assets.

Julian is currently appealing against this judgment.

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