Friday, April 19, 2024

Ashlee Simpson: Why Sell Wedding Photos? She’s Married an Heir to a Fortune


Let’s gossip a little this morning. The New York Daily News is very upset that Ashlee Simpson, sister of Jessica, couldn’t sell her wedding photos to Evan Ross. Pish, posh. In this case, no one has to sell anything. Ashlee, you see, has hit the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Evan Ross is commonly described as the son of Supremes singer Diana Ross. But listen, Evan’s dad was Arne Naess, Jr. Arne died in 2004 in a rock climbing accident. But he was already worth at least $100 million. He was the heir to a huge Norwegian shipping fortune. When he divorced Diana in 1999, after 14 years of marriage and two sons, he settled $25 million to her plus support.

It’s not like Diana’s any slouch either. She made good money as a Supreme and continues to tour as a top tier star performer. But Diana didn’t write her own songs, so she doesn’t get publishing royalties. And most of her big hits came before 1972, so she’s currently getting screwed by Spotify, Pandora, and all the digital downloading services.

In other words: Diana’s marriage to Arne Naess Jr. in the mid 1980s was a huge windfall for her. She already had three daughters. But in her mid 40s, Diana gave the billionaire heir two sons. (The other is Ross Naess. Evan took Diana’s name as a performer.) The sons don’t have to work a day in their lives. Trust me. If Ashlee Simpson can make this marriage, her second before age 30, work, she’s in good shape.

A pre-nup? I’d say that Diana Ross won’t have Evan singing “You Keep Me Hanging On” if the marriage doesn’t work out.

And Arne Naess? He had seven children in all, including European pop singer Leona Naess. Arne Naess Jr. died in 2004, a year after his father, Erling Naess. Erling’s brother, Arne (referred to as Arne Sr.) lived until 2009 and was a famous Norwegian philosopher and environmentalist. But it was Erling, Arne’s father, who built the shipping fortune under the company Anglo-Norness. The company was sold in 1973 for $208 million, or roughly $1 billion in today’s currency.

And Diana? She lives in the toniest neighborhood in ritzy Greenwich. Connecticut. Her 12,500 square foot estate is on five acres, with four acres of adjacent waterfront property. She tried to sell the place in 2007 for $39 million but couldn’t. Since the recession, the property is valued at $14.5 million. Diana had her tax billion lowered in 2010.

Presumably, the mansion is filled with gold. Records, that is.

As for Ashlee, long since passed are the “SNL” lip synching scandal and the nose job. She and sister Jessica have really turned lemons (or tuna, as in Chicken of the Sea) into lemonade.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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