Marilyn Monroe film stirs local suit

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AUBURN – The heirs of Marilyn Monroe’s first husband claim in a lawsuit that a filmmaker documenting the couple’s marriage spent production money on massages, antiques and child support and never paid promised profits.

A judge at Androscoggin County Superior Court has frozen $1 million of the defendant’s assets.

The late James Dougherty of Auburn married Monroe, who at the time was named Norma Jeane Baker, when she was 16 and he was 21. They were divorced after four years while he was stationed abroad during World War II.

He later wrote two books about their friendship and marriage, the latest titled “To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmy.” He also appears in the 2004 documentary, “Marilyn’s Man.”

Schani Krug of York made that movie after signing a contract with Dougherty in 2002. His agent, Thomas Peters II and Dougherty’s co-writer Elsie Van Savage, named as co-plaintiffs, also signed the agreement. A fourth plaintiff, investor Jayson Baron of Pennsylvania, claimed breach of contract.

In the suit, Krug is accused of using production money and revenues to pay for:

• twice-weekly massages;

• dating services;

• child support;

• antiques;

• children’s birthday presents;

• chiropractic services;

• lawn care;

• car repairs;

• rent; and other personal expenses.

Krug, who just heard about the suit on Monday, called the claims against him “nefarious and conspiratorial.” With 18 of the original investors very happy with the way money was managed, Krug believes the suit is clearly a ploy by Peters to take over the project.

Krug also said the claims that he used money for personal reasons were entirely untrue.

“These allegations are absolutely ludicrous. They act like I’ve been living like a king, which is far from the truth,” Krug said. “I’ve been living very frugally to make this project happen.”

Krug believes Peters and Baron want full control of the film project and that the suit is a tactic to make that happen.

“There will be counter suits and then the truth will become clear,” Krug said. “After all these years, James Dougherty and Marilyn Monroe, two wonderful people, are still being exploited. They would be turning over in their graves if they knew what was happening.”

The complaint says Krug agreed to give half of the film’s revenues to the plaintiffs. It also says he agreed to pay Baron 12 percent of the profits plus repayment of his loan with 20 percent interest, but never delivered on his promises.

In all, Krug received about $800,000 after the movie was nearly complete. “All of this money remains unaccounted for,” according to the suit.

“Krug embarked on an entirely irresponsible and lavish squandering of monies” he took in from the film, the suit says. It claims Krug has admitted to at least some of the alleged spending. On Monday however, Krug was adamant that he has been living modestly, driving an old truck and living in a tiny home as a result of his work on the film.

“I’ve been living in basically a hovel,” Krug said.

But when the plaintiffs sought a full accounting, Krug supplied them with only limited bank statements from his film company, Valhalla Productions LLC, according to the suit.

The suit says Krug withdrew $240,000 in cash from automatic teller machines and made credit card purchases, none of which were documented as expenses for the project.

“It appears Krug may have sold or attempted to sell shares in the project which he did not own in an effort to raise funds to support his lifestyle and personal expenses,” the suit states.

Baron said he was talked into investing after Krug had spent his own money to start making the movie. That later turned out to be false, Baron said in a sworn affidavit.

Krug had told Baron the movie would open at theaters in seven U.S. cities on Aug. 5, 2004, the anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. “Never happened,” Baron said.

Krug also allegedly boasted that the movie had won the New York Independent Film Festival for best documentary, been featured in IFQ Magazine, would be distributed at Cannes Film Festival and had been admitted at the famed festival.

It turned out, Baron said, the New York festival and magazine were owned by the same company that Krug had signed a contract with to distribute the movie to theaters. The movie wasn’t judged at Cannes, but marketed independently at a booth in conjunction with that festival.

Baron said he feared Krug would “spirit away” the movie’s profits, noting he has a German passport.

Staff writer Mark LaFlamme contributed to this report.

////Breakout box

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit claim the filmmaker of the documentary “Marilyn’s Man,” about Marilyn Monroe and her first husband, used profits and money earmarked for production on massages, birthday presents, antiques and dating services.

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