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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bob Cassilly's Estate in Turmoil; Widow Says She's Being Squeezed Out of City Museum

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 11:15 AM

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A portrait of Bob Cassilly created prior to his death. - PEAT WOLLEAGER
  • Peat Wolleager
  • A portrait of Bob Cassilly created prior to his death.

Jump and Cassilly were never the most likely of business partners. When Cassilly wrestled control of the museum from his ex-wife, Gail Cassilly, and a non-profit board of directors in 2002, he needed someone with deep pockets to fund the buyout and give him free range on all creative decisions. That person was Dave Jump, the owner of a barge company called American Milling and a shrewd businessman who made a name for himself flipping real estate in downtown St. Louis in the early 2000s.

"Bob was always really grateful to Dave for stepping in to help him through that," Giovanna says of her husband's partnership with the man she claims neither she nor her husband could quite call a friend. "Bob was the creative muscle and Dave had the money to back his projects. It was a good partnership that way."

Jump did not respond to the RFT's request for comment, though legal filings seem to back Giovanna's claims that he's attempting to push her out.

In a May 31 filing in St. Louis Circuit Court, Jump asserted that under the terms of City Museum's operating agreement he can be the only one to serve as the museum's legal manager, even though Cassilly's estate legally inherited Bob's 50 percent stake in the business. As Bob's wife at the time of his death, Giovanna is entitled to half of his assets, giving her control of the estate. Bob's children each inherit the remaining 50 percent evenly.

click to enlarge Bob built the outdoor jungle gym MonstroCity as he fought to regain creative control of the museum from a nonprofit board. The story goes that Bob was prohibited from entering the building at the time, so he took to the parking lot instead.
  • Bob built the outdoor jungle gym MonstroCity as he fought to regain creative control of the museum from a nonprofit board. The story goes that Bob was prohibited from entering the building at the time, so he took to the parking lot instead.

According to a preliminary appraisal from October 2011, Bob's share in City Museum LLC and International Building Co., LLC (the residential loft space that also houses the museum) is worth approximately $3 million.

About a month after Cassilly died, Giovanna filed a temporary restraining order against Jump, accusing him of changing locks to keep her out of various storage facilities and offices in City Museum and the IBC Building -- where she, Bob, and their two children had lived -- and preventing her from reviewing City Museum's financial documents.

In a ruling in June, Judge Joan L. Moriarty agreed that under the terms of City Museum's operating agreement, Jump had the right to deny Giovanna access to financial statements despite her role as personal representative of Cassilly's estate.

Now Giovanna says she's just trying to get Jump to make the monthly payments to Bob and his family that he did before Cassilly's death. In court filings, Jump has argued that his monetary distributions to Bob were never fixed, and he claims he has the managerial power to choose to leave money in City Museum instead of distributing it to the owners.

In a court filing on May 31, Jump's attorneys noted: "Plaintiff [Giovanna Cassilly] wants Jump to distribute more money to her regardless of the circumstances -- despite the fact that City Museum and IBC have distributed over $1,800,000 to Bob Cassilly and the estate over the past year and a half."

Giovanna counters that those payments were made prior to Bob's death and since his passing she hasn't received anything from Jump and has consequently struggled to pay bills. The estate has now failed to pay property taxes on Cementland this summer, resulting in an IRS audit.

"He loves to get a good deal," says Giovanna of Jump. "And he's doing everything he can right now to get that. He's squeezing me out here, bit-by-bit."

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