The mother of Vanessa Amorosi has claimed the pop star bought her a home during her meteoric rise but now wants it back.
The family drama is being aired in the Victorian Supreme Court as Ms Amorosi sues her mother, Joyleen Robinson, for control of two properties she says were bought with her income and music royalties.
Both properties, an 8ha Narre Warren property in Melbourne’s southeast where Mrs Robinson has lived for more than 20 years and Ms Amorosi’s home in California, are owned by family trusts which list both women as joint owners.
Mrs Robinson is counter suing, asking the court to enforce what she says was a verbal agreement that she could take control of the Narre Warren property by repaying her daughter the original purchase price.
Ms Amorosi has repeatedly claimed that this agreement never happened.
The “kitchen agreement” as it’s been described in court, allegedly occurred before Ms Amorosi purchased the property for $650,000 a year after performing her hit song Absolutely Everybody at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Ms Robinson claims she paid her daughter $710,000 in 2014 after selling a separate property because the singer was “struggling”.
The legal stoush comes after a long-running feud between the mother and daughter which began in 2014 when Ms Amorosi was told she couldn’t afford to keep her home near Los Angeles.
At the time, Llama, the trust that held Ms Amorosi’s assets, had a mortgage of $1.2 million for her then-home – borrowed against her Australian properties.
She told the court only then did she start to look at where her earnings had gone and was shocked to find there was “nothing left”.
“I couldn’t get the answers to what had really gone down and why I was losing my house,” Ms Amorosi said.
“I asked her to show me where the money had gone. (She said) I spent it all.”
She told the court that she began to question her mum’s management of her finances, a “war” broke out in her family.
Ms Amorosi said she believed Mrs Robinson had been “very generous with my money”.
Taking the witness stand on Friday afternoon, Ms Robinson said she had always acted in her daughter’s interest and stopped actively managing her finances in 2011 when she moved to California.
She told the court she had set up the companies and trusts because an accountant had advised them it would protect Ms Amorosi.
Ms Robinson said she had sold several of Ms Amorosi’s properties at the request of her daughter’s American business manager and “all the money went back into Llama”.
In his opening address, Mrs Robinson’s lawyer, Daniel Harrison, said his client was open to signing over her interest in Ms Amorosi’s California home if the outstanding mortgage on the Narre Warren home was discharged.
He suggested the music star was bringing the case because her current financial circumstances are “not good”, which Ms Amorosi denied.
Mr Harrison flagged should the court rule against his client, she will seek to claim “adverse possession” – a legal rule allowing an occupier to obtain ownership – over the property.
The trial continues.