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Stieg Larsson's brother: we're not greedy

David Landes · 22 Jan 2011, 15:06

Published: 22 Jan 2011 15:06 GMT+01:00

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“We’ve tried to offer Eva something for several years and she’s always answered no. There are tons of letters about it. The whole time she’s answered, ‘No, I don’t want any money or gifts from you,’ Joakim Larsson said in an interview broadcast on Sveriges Television (SVT) on Friday night.

Speaking with talk show host Fredrik Skavlan, the younger Larsson added that he was “bothered” that Gabrielsson refused to “tell it like it is”.

The interview comes one week after Skavlan spoke with Gabrielsson about the ongoing dispute over Stieg Larsson’s inheritance.

Larsson, 50, died of a heart attack in November 2004, before the publication of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest", the three books which make up the Millennium trilogy.

Gabrielsson, his partner for 32 years, has been locked in a dispute with Larsson's family over his inheritance. The journalist-turned-novelist died without a will, and the couple never had children.

Because the couple never married, the author's assets -- including copyrights -- automatically went to his father and brother, in according with Swedish law.

The books went on to become best sellers in Sweden and abroad, having sold around 50 million copies worldwide. Film versions of the books were produced in Sweden in 2009, with Hollywood remakes scheduled to be released in late 2011.

In June 2010, soon after a Swedish film adaptation of "Tattoo" was released in the United States, Gabrielsson turned down the family's offer of 20 million kronor ($2.75 million) plus a seat on the board of directors of the company that manages the rights to Larsson's work.

The younger Larsson told Skavlan that Larsson’s books have generated 250 million kronor ($38 million) in income so far and guessed that they would generate “at least 100 million kronor more”.

Despite the windfall generated by his late brother’s success, Joakim Larsson maintained that he and his father are committed to giving the money away to organisations that work to fight racism and promote women’s rights "in Stieg's spirit".

"We have a responsibility to continue Stieg's work," he said.

And while administering the state is a full-time job, Joakim was adamant that he isn’t lining his pockets with the riches generated by his brother’s works.

“I do take a salary from the company, I do have to support myself,” he admitted. Speaking with the Aftonbladet newspaper, he claimed he paid himself about 30,000 kronor per month.

The author’s younger brother also disputed Gabrielsson characterization of his relationship with Stieg as “non-existent”.

“There was nothing strange from my perspective,” he told Skavlan.

“I saw it as a totally normal relationship.”

Gabrielsson has previously cited the fact that she and Stieg weren’t invited to Joakim’s wedding as a sign of strained relations between the two.

But Joakim Larsson explained the alleged slight by pointing out that he and his wife simply registered their 1989 marriage with public authorities in the presence of their children and parents.

“Not even I was at my own wedding,” he quipped.

Joakim Larsson admitted that his brother would probably not be happy with way things between Gabrielsson and his family have been handled since his untimely death.

“He’d be sad, obviously, he’d say, ‘Why can’t you sit down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette and discuss this’,” said Joakim Larsson

“Stieg maybe would have wanted us to work together instead of fight.”

According to Larsson, the ongoing disagreement between the two parties started in part over differing opinions about what to do with the manuscript for the fourth book in the Millennium series.

Gabrielsson recently released a memoir claiming she could complete the unfinished fourth volume of the wildly-successful Millennium crime trilogy if she could secure the rights.

Story continues below…

Larsson explained that Gabrielsson was “upset” at the thought of handing the manuscript over to publishers following Stieg’s death.

He added that by continuing to wrangle over the fourth Millennium book, which he claims his father has seen, Gabrielsson is getting in the way the realisation of her late partner’s wishes for the novel.

“Stieg said the income from the fourth book should go to Expo,” said Joakim Larsson.

Expo is the foundation and magazine which the late author helped found and which is dedicated to the study of right-wing extremist and racist movements in Swedish society.

“Eva isn’t withholding money from us, she’s withholding money from Expo,” he added.

Nevertheless, Joakim Larsson expressed hope that someday, his family and Gabrielsson could patch up their differences.

"I hope she can come to us and participate in the administration (of the estate)," he said.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:15 January 22, 2011 by JoeSwede
Great books!!!! The family drama doesn't hurt either.

Maybe a 50/50 split of present and future earnings would be a better idea. Their offer was too low.

What would Elizabeth Salander do??????
17:20 January 22, 2011 by jbkulp
She sounds like a complete nut to me. Under Swedish law, the father and brother are clearly entitled to the estate and she is entitled to none. If Larson had wanted her to get something, he should have done so in a will. Giving her anything at all--which she has refused anyway--is only if they want to give her something. Seems she is in need of mental help under the Swedish healthcare system to me.
18:35 January 22, 2011 by BobWas
I thought that Swedish law would have some inheritance rights for long term partners -- treating them as common-law spouses. But, since it doesn't, then Ms. Gabrielsson has no claim on the estate (including publishing rights to any future books). And it's none of her business what that Larssons' do with the money, or how much salary Joakim draws.

Now as to what Lisbeth Salander would do? I think she would just hack into the estate bank account, and steal the money! And then transfer it to numbered accounts, controlled by her, in overseas tax havens -- it's her modus operandi.
18:46 January 22, 2011 by Judge Waurynchuk
Hello Sweden, In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Henrik Vanger explained his family to Michael saying that, for the most part, they were simple minded and greedy. I believe that Eva and Stieg were commenting on his blood relatives Erland and Joakim Larsson who deserve nothing of what Stieg and Eva created over their 30 year common law marriage. Swedish Inheritance Laws are out of date considering that 25 per cent of couples in Sweden live common law and the process of drawing a will is cumbersome and expensive. Sweden is not alone in the European Union with such out of date religion based inheritance laws. This is one thing Eva wishes to see a change in. Also, the lack of quality of the translations and abuse of principles Eva and Stieg lived by are good reasons for Eva's personal handling of the Millenium Trilogy. The previous commentator jbkulp unfortunately has little insight of all the factors involved in the dispute between Eva and the Larssons. It is obvious that Stieg and Eva should have entered a contract governing their relationship, or prepared wills, but that it did not happen does not detract from the fact that Stieg and Eva were soulmates and partners for 30 years and they together created Lizbeth Salander and Michael B. If this had happened in Canada Eva, on the very same facts, Eva would have inherited all of Stieg's estate. What I am looking forward to is the High Court of Sweden declaring that Stieg and Eva were co-authors of the books. Only then would there be justice and only then would Stieg rest in peace. Come on Sweden get behind this need for justice. An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.
18:52 January 22, 2011 by Maler1971
Marriage would have solved this issue. Nowadays we think that we are smarter in not marrying ...........it does create more problems in some ways like rights of properties.
19:54 January 22, 2011 by GLO
Legal rights are clear. She should be grateful for any offer she gets. She has no legal standing. Seems to me she should sit down over coffee and get real.
20:24 January 22, 2011 by kcussmilsum

And who said Swedes weren't Capitalists?
21:04 January 22, 2011 by Zala Russe
The issues are perhaps more complex than they might appear. What matters now is moving on. There are personal matters to resolve before a mediated solution could be found. This is not fighting over a bone.

The sheer scale of the 'financial' legacy, book sales, and film rights is a fortune and could leave all parties rich beyond imagining. The 'literary' legacy and Stieg's reputation is in the shadows. The financial legacy ONLY exists because of the dedication of fans worldwide. ALL parties to the dispute should consider their responsibilities to the memory of Stieg, and the love of his fanbase.

'THE MAN WHO LEFT TOO SOON: The Biography of Stieg Larsson' by Barry Forshaw. Book Review by Zala Russe:

21:29 January 22, 2011 by bira
I'm curious to know what it is Eva believes she is "entitled" to? The law is what it is, should have thought about that, don't you think? Not that anyone think they will die tomorrow, but with the law being what it is and Swede's unwillingness to marry each other, what the he** does she expect? Ignorance of the law, if that is the case, is no excuse.
22:15 January 22, 2011 by Zala Russe
Well I hate to be coming back so soon, but here it is.

At the point that he died, Stieg had secured a publishing contract, but was obviously unaware that future sale of his books would top the 40 million mark. Perhaps it was, to an extent, part of his nature. While meticulous and driven as a writer he could be careless over his health and diet. He didn't expect to die at 50. How many of us do?

My guessing is that Eva, as an architect probably provided the mainstay of income over Stieg's minority interests in radical journalism.

Their marital status had nothing to do with unwillingness to marry each other.

It had everything to do with Swedish 'openness' on access to information. This has been reined in recently, but at the time we are talking about: names, addresses, telephone numbers, tax return details, etc were freely available on the internet. Even now, what is publicly available on websites like eniro.se would horrify the average UK citizen. In France it would be considered an outrage.

Stieg, given his expressed views WAS a target for the extreme right. He sought to reduce the risk to himself, but above all his partner, by maintaining his marital status as single. In the current context of international terrorism from any quarter, perhaps Sweden needs to redress the balance?

We are left with a huge conundrum of balancing 'public interest' with 'rights to privacy'. Ironically, of course, this is a major theme explored by Stieg as a novelist.

In conclusion, what I am saying is that the situation needs to be examined through the retrospective lens of 'what applied then'.
22:36 January 22, 2011 by engagebrain
Morally she is certainly entitled to a major share - they spent their adult lives together. And their reason for not marrying was to protect his partner from racist violence.

Clearly Stieg did not factor in his own genetic relatives.

Greedy seems too small a word.
23:48 January 22, 2011 by BobWas
Like #10 and #11, I also read that they didn't marry -- or register their partnership --because they didn't want their address revealed to his alleged enemies.

OK. But wouldn't these so-called right-wing racists that Mr. Larsson thought were out to get him just follow him home from the office? And once they did that and learned where he lived, wouldn't they soon find out that Ms. Gabrielsson was his girlfriend, and lived there too?

Mr. Larsson's reasoning just doesn't make sense to me.
00:23 January 23, 2011 by Sweetdishgurl
I just watched the interview on SVTplay.com and he came across as a slime ball to me. He was blinking and licking his lips a lot which indicated that he was lying. His family could easily say no to the legal system (which sucks in Sweden) and take the morally correct path of letting Eva have control of the books. In Sweden it is much more common to be "sambo"/common law than to be married and if you live with someone for 32 years you should have more rights than what the system currently allows. Stieg should have written a will but even though he did not the system should recognize their union and commitment to each other. The fact that Stieg's family did not let Eva have any say in her man's inheritance says it all-they are greedy. The last question in the interview was my favorite when the interviewer asked the brother if he thought Stieg would approve of the family conduct towards Eva. His expression was priceless-they know they are in the wrong but they are so filthy rich and money is all that matters to them. Fact: Nobody can better represent and continue Stieg Larssons legacy/work better than Eva Gabrielsson! Wake up Larsson Family and do the right thing, it's not too late! If you understand Swedish both interviews are on SVTplay.com, Eva was last Friday and Slime ball was on yesterday.

Judge Waurynchuk, I agree with you 100%.
00:41 January 23, 2011 by Judge Waurynchuk
Zala Russe, I agree with you entirely. This sad tragedy calls for understanding and compassion and forget about what Stieg and/or Eva should or should not have done. It calls for Justice. Eva and Stieg worked on these stories together during their 30 years together. There was little or no contact with Stieg's father or brother yet everything Stieg and Eva did together has only benefitted the two blood relatives. Why offer Eva a few million when it is not what she asked for? Why would the father, Erland, tell the Swedish media that the only way Eva would get the money from him is by marrying him? Now, that is a sick statement. The Larsson gang should turn over the right to manage the Stieg Larsson Millennium Legacy to Eva, split the royalties with Eva and thereby try to regain a degree of honour and respect, after committing this theft from Stieg and Eva because of outdated ancient inheritance laws. I understand that when the settlement offer was made it was followed by an angry half hour outburst by Joachim directed at Eva because she indicated that she was only interested in protecting Stieg's memory and his principles. Now Erland and Joachim prevail on the media to say they are entitled by law, were connected to Stieg and Eva, and they have always been transparent and understanding. Nothing but Lies from these two Larssons.
11:16 January 23, 2011 by Garry Jones
The article omits some important facts.

Stieg would have got married if the law on publishing addresses had been changed. As a nazi hunter he had to live at secret locations. In Sweden if you marry your address becomes public domain.

The Swedish system that forced him to remain unmarried created this mess.

However, it is not true that he died without leaving a will. He left a will, written in 1977, and leaves his entire estate to the Swedish communists.

His GREEDY brother has contested that will on a technicality. What he should have done is to honour his brother's last record dying wish and given the money to the communists.
11:36 January 23, 2011 by thecraicer
Its funny to watch commies fight over money :)
11:39 January 23, 2011 by soultraveler3
Since it is now much more common in Sweden to be sambo instead of getting married it might be time for the laws to be changed.

It's a little strange that you could live with someone for 20+ years, have children with them, a house with them, go on holiday with them etc. and then not have some sort of financial protection when they pass. Even if the couple kept seperate accounts for most things there still would've been a lot of money paid in by both partners to various things.

A will is the obivious way to take care of your partner but if you die young like the author did, you're screwed. Most 50 year olds probably aren't thinking that they need to have stuff like that sorted out.
12:29 January 23, 2011 by engagebrain
The relatives are nasty and greedy.

I hope there is a hell and the relatives can try to justify their actions to Stieg - that would make a great film.

Looking in the mirror every morning must be a morally challenging.
12:51 January 23, 2011 by jimmyjames
OK, let us all be brutally honest. This situation makes clear two LAWS OF LIFE : 1.) When millions of kronors, dollars, or euros become primary components of any equation all that beautiful, high-minded idealism are instantaneously forgotten ALWAYS. 2.) Blood ties are, REPEAT, are the only legitiment recognized ties besides a MARRIAGE ( this has been the way of all human cultures since the beginning !!! And, every human society has specific rituals wherein a marriage is sanctioned/recognized by the society at large, also known as "legal" marriage) These two chose to ignore all the proscribed methods developed by society TO AVOID THIS EXACT TYPE OF CONFUSION !!!!! Marriages, Wills, recording of Blood Lines/Linage/Ancestory have deveoped over the centuries TO PREVENT CHAOS, CONFUSSION, ARGUEMENTS AND ultimately ( oftentimes) VIOLENCE regarding inhertience issues. You ignore them at your peril. This sorry episode illustrates my point perfectly.
05:14 January 24, 2011 by JoeSwede
The state should allow legal civil unions, not marriage. Mariage is better suited for private church groups. Seperation of church and state....that way civil unions can have one set of rules and mariage can have another.

The fact that Stieg was worried about his safety....the state should have allowed the civil union but hid the record from public viewing. He probably worked too hard to think of these things and his girlfriend was the major bread winner.

Lately Swedes have inherited millions from overseas...Stieg Larson's brother and Tiger Wood's wife without having directly contributed to the immediate success. This type of weird transfer makes me almost ok with wealth tax or inheritance tax.
23:30 January 24, 2011 by Staffs
Common law marriage is an urban myth, it has never existed with any legal recognition. However, contribution to a assets is a different kettle of fish, but here it seems as if she contributed nothing, or nothing that could be proven.

So, she is entitled to nothing, as an ealier poster stated, they had 30 years to sort a will out so it obviously meant very little to them, she doth protest too much me thinks.
01:00 January 25, 2011 by Garry Jones
As regarding law on marriage: I moved to Sweden in 1988. My first chld was born in 89. As we were not married I was unable to apply for a British birth certificate for my child. No blood test or declaration was good enough. Britain said no because we were not married. (We married in 1990 and then I was allowed to register the birth). Well, Britain has moved with the times. I noticed last week on the British Embassy's website that you can now apply for a birth certificate on basis of being the father. Its laughable because Sweden normally blame England for being conservative and behind the times. Its time for Sweden to catch up. However, in this actual case it doesn't matter. Larssons will (that he wrote) should be enough to satisfy those who have been given the money to give it to the communists as he wished.

And note, the laws in England do provide a little more protection for common-law partners. http://www.oneplusone.org.uk/marriedornot/WillsAndInheritance.htm
02:55 January 25, 2011 by BobWas
Garry, the will couldn't have been valid or the communists would have the money already. Maybe it wasn't signed, or witnessed?

All in all, a fascinating case.
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