MIDTOWN — An ailing 95-year-old accountant who was a child of the Great Depression says he gave his grandson the pampered upbringing he never got — money to cover college and law school, fat cash gifts and luxury vacations around the globe.
But now Allan Ash is suing his millionaire bachelor grandson, accusing him of being an ingrate for refusing to return a $950,000 “conditional gift.”
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court, Ash says he handed Geoffrey Richards, 41, a check on March 12, when doctors told him he was on death’s door due to water in his lungs and heart problems.
The lawsuit claims that $200,000 of the gift was meant to help Richards unwind Ash’s affairs and cover funeral expenses. Richards also allegedly agreed to return the cash if Ash survived his health scare and wanted the money back, the lawsuit says.
Ash survived, and had a change of heart in late spring. The Midtown resident decided that another grandson who lives closer would be a better choice to handle his affairs, so he asked Richards for $200,000 back, the suit says.
Richards, a finance executive from Chicago, flew to New York City to talk face to face with his granddad, who relies on a wheelchair and lives in an apartment with 24-hour care. According to the lawsuit, he then refused to cough up the cash — nearly killing Ash.
“Mr. Richards’ rejection of Mr. Ash’s request for return of funds shocked Mr. Ash and caused him great emotional and physical anguish, to the extent that Mr. Ash believed he would have a heart attack,” the lawsuit says.
Earlier this week, Ash asked Richards for the other $750,000 to create a trust for his thrice-divorced granddaughter, who has two kids and has been in drug rehab for two months, the suit says. Richards has not responded to the request, the lawsuit notes.
Richards collects a seven-figure salary as a managing director at investment firm William Blair and Company, and made Crain’s Chicago Business’s 40 under 40 list in 2009, according to the lawsuit.
Ash says he played a major role in his grandson’s success, serving as a “father figure,” the suit says.
The grandfather picked out and paid for an exclusive boarding school for Richards to attend, the lawsuit says. He also paid for Richards to study at the University of Wisconsin, and then at Brooklyn Law School and Northwestern University Law School. During school breaks, Richards also traveled to Israel, Greece, Denmark and other countries on Ash’s dime, according to the lawsuit.
Ash also spoiled his grandson with cash gifts totaling $600,000 between 1998 and the present. That money is in addition to the $950,000, the lawsuit says.
“[Richards’] professional success is in no small part because of assistance that Mr. Ash has given Mr. Richards since the time he was a child,” the lawsuit says.
Ash says he never had it as easy as his grandson.
He was born in 1916 to Ukrainian immigrant parents, and grew up during the Great Depression in The Bronx, with his mother working as a janitor and his father as a shoemaker.
Ash still managed to get a bachelor’s degree and an MBA in accounting from City College. After graduation, he took a job earning $25 a month in an accounting firm, where he eventually managed to work his way up to partner. He spent more than 70 years at the firm, Ash & Parson LLP.
“In the twilight of his life, Mr. Ash deserves to be treated with dignity, with respect, and for Mr. Richards to honor his commitments to Mr. Ash,” the lawsuit says.
Richards did not return multiple requests for comments. The lawsuit seeks the return of the $950,000, as well as the cost of legal fees.