The family of late Scholastic Inc. CEO M. Richard “Dick” Robinson Jr. was reportedly left “shocked” by his will and succession plan for the major book publishing company.
He didn’t give control of the $1.2 billion publishers to either of his two sons, or his siblings, or his ex-wife, with whom he had rekindled a friendship during the pandemic. Instead, control went to Iole Lucchese, Scholastic’s chief strategy officer. She also inherited all his personal possessions. When her phone buzzed on June 6, Iole Lucchese was still absorbing a shock that had come the day before.
Robinson died suddenly while taking a walk with one of his sons and his former wife on Martha’s Vineyard on June 5, 2021. Despite being eighty-four years old, he was thought to be in good health. Nevertheless, he left the company to this former lover rather than his two sons, his siblings, or his ex-wife, The Wall Street Journal reported in a shocking article.
Ms. Lucchese’s sudden emergence as Scholastic’s heir has set in motion a family succession drama at the century-old company—it is one of the world’s largest publishers of children’s books, from the “Harry Potter” novels to the “Magic School Bus” series—and raised questions about its future as an independent concern.
Not only did Lucchese inherit power in the book publishing company, but she also inherited the billionaire’s personal possessions – all of them. The Wall Street Journal was able to obtain this information about the assets belonging to Robinson because they obtained a 2018 copy of his will that outlined the succession plan of the children’s book publisher. His family members, including his ex-wife, are very unhappy with the way things have progressed following the sudden death of the billionaire.
Those who knew Robinson knew that it was an open secret that he had a romantic relationship with Luccesse, 54, although it was believed that their romance ended a few years ago. Nevertheless, the 2018 copy of Robinson’s will described Luccesse as “my partner and closet friend.” She has worked for the book publisher for the last three decades and has made a marvelous impact on the company.
In addition to the titles listed above, Scholastic is also the publisher of the “Harry Potter” series as well as “Captain Underpants” both of which are huge sellers to this day.
Scholastic Magazines Inc. was founded by Robinson’s father, Maurice Robinson. The pair worked together.
Following Robinson’s death in June, Scholastic issued a statement that said: “We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dick Robinson. Dick was a true visionary in the world of children’s books and an unrelenting advocate for children’s literacy and education with a remarkable passion his entire life. The Company’s directors and employees, as well as the many educators, parents, and students whose lives he touched, mourn his loss.”
Some family members are unhappy and are reviewing their legal options, people close to the situation said, with concerns running the gamut from wanting to maintain Scholastic’s independence to rawness about an outsider having control of Mr. Robinson’s personal possessions. One possibility is to reach an agreement with Ms. Lucchese to transfer some voting shares to family members or to ensure they get a greater share of the estate, one person said.