Australian performer Vanessa Amorosi claims she had no control over her finances because her mother took over early in her career under the guise of protecting her.
The 42-year-old is suing her mother Joyleen Robinson in the Victorian Supreme Court for full ownership of two properties bought as a result of her success.
One is an eight-hectare property in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s southeast, while the second is Amorosi’s current residence in California.
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Amorosi gave evidence to the court on Thursday, repeatedly taking small breaks to wipe away tears and compose herself.
She said from the start of her music career, her mother told her not to trust anyone but her when it came to her finances.
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“She was very fearful of people wanting to steal the money,” Amorosi told the court.
A trust was set up by Robinson in 1999, into which all of Amorosi’s income from sales, royalties and touring was funnelled.
Singer Vanessa Amorosi performs at the 2023 Australian Open. Credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images
About $650,000 from that trust was used to buy the Narre Warren home in 2001.
Amorosi claimed her mother bought the property before she even saw it and Robinson put her name down on the title as joint-owner.
“When I first saw the house, I was a little disappointed. I didn’t want a massive house like that,” she told the court.
In 2005, Amorosi bought another home in the outer Melbourne suburb of Officer using another trust created by her mother to control all her assets.
She told the court she had to take out a loan for the property even though she was making millions of dollars.
Amorosi said she never sought advice before signing any mortgages or guarantees with the bank, instead just signing documents at her mother’s request.
The 42-year-old eventually moved to California for career opportunities and to be with a boyfriend, and she bought a place there.
She used the Narre Warren and Officer properties, as well as two residential units, to secure the loan for the US house.
Amorosi told the court she understood the Officer property and the units would be sold to pay down the mortgage, but that didn’t eventuate.
She had to instead sell that Californian home because she could no longer afford the property in 2014.
Amorosi told the court when she confronted her mother about her finances, Robinson accused her of spending it all.
“I was pretty angry,” Amorosi told the court.
The singer-songwriter said that confrontation led to their falling out and prompted her to seek legal action.
The evidence before Justice Steven Moore continues.
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