$1.2 million of Joy Culverhouse's jewelry 'surreptitiously sold' prior to her death, son says

Joy Culverhouse in 1997
Joy Culverhouse in 1997
Published May 11, 2016

TAMPA — More than $1 million worth of jewelry belonging to Joy Culverhouse, widow of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse Sr., was "surreptitiously sold" before her April 26 death, her son said at a court hearing Tuesday.

At the brief hearing, Hugh Culverhouse Jr. also said that there had been an agreement — he didn't say who made it — not to tell him and his sister anything about their 96-year-old mother in her final months.

But before Culverhouse could go much further, Judge Herbert Baumann reminded him that the sole purpose of the hearing was to accept Joy Culverhouse's will for probate and appoint a personal representative for her estate.

In the future, "you and your counsel are free to file whatever you desire for the court to" consider, the judge told him.

Culverhouse and his sister, Gay Culverhouse, have refused to release their mother's body for cremation or burial until her attorney, Robert Waltuch, allows an autopsy and turns over her medical records. That issue wasn't addressed Tuesday, and the body remains in a Tampa funeral home two weeks after she died.

Previous coverage: Children of former Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse refuse to release mother's body as family feuds

In a court filing, Culverhouse said he had "real concerns" about his mother's medical treatment and intellectual capacity in her final years, noting that she abused alcohol and had "several episodes" that required hospitalization and commitment to a mental health facility.

Because Joy Culverhouse appeared to have been incapable of protecting her interests, the filing said, there had been "several questionable transactions'' including loans to Waltuch and her grandson, Christopher Chapman, from a mortgage company owned by one of her trusts. Chapman — he is Gay Culverhouse's son — also appeared to have used money derived from his grandmother's assets to invest in a film company, the filing said.

"(Hugh Culverhouse Jr.) believes that Mr. Waltuch, Mr. Chapman and others may have engaged in other transactions that were not in accordance with Mrs. Culverhouse's best interests and which constitute impermissible self-dealing," the filing said.

Joy Culverhouse, who lived in a Tampa condo, gave Chapman power of attorney in 2011 to handle her affairs, court records show. Chapman has a home in Tampa. Hugh Jr., a lawyer and developer, lives in South Florida and her daughter, a former college president, lives in Fernandina Beach.

In court Tuesday, Hugh Culverhouse Jr. said he has seen "monies flow rapidly" out of his mother's assets and that $1.2 million to $1.3 million of her jewelry had been sold "out of state."

But the judge cut him off before he could go into more detail and adjourned the hearing after accepting the will and appointing Waltuch as personal representative of the estate.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.