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Blowup

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His daughter Alejandra likens the settlement amount to "a piece of garbage." She says a liquor company as big as Smirnoff should have paid her father much more. She thinks that because the Cuba Solidarity Campaign was involved her father really had no choice but to donate the money to the government "and play the role of hero of the revolution one more time."

Piracy of "Heroic Guerrilla," however, was too widespread for Korda to control. He and a representative in France explored suing Switzerland-based Swatch for using the photo on a line of watches, according to Guffanti. But Korda didn't follow through on that legal action.

Guffanti and her daughter say Korda also had considered suing Sony for allowing the rock band Rage Against the Machine to use "Heroic Guerrilla" on a CD cover. But he dropped the idea because he knew the U.S. trade embargo would bar Sony from paying him. "He realized that he couldn't charge Sony a cent because he was Cuban," Alejandra says.


Last August Guffanti sent a letter to Castro notifying him that her son Dante had challenged the will. Taking the patriarch's suggestion at the funeral, she also sent copies to Prieto and Martí. Korda would never have knowingly signed a will that favored one of his children over the others, she argued. "[Korda] always lived modestly and helped his children and grandchildren equally," Guffanti wrote. "His preoccupation for his family while he was alive contradicts the document drafted in 1999, whose authenticity I doubt."

She referred to the Smirnoff lawsuit. "I ask you: If while living Korda said -- and he was proud of it -- that his work related to the Cuban Revolution belonged to the Cuban government, how is a document that would annul his own way of thinking and acting possible? ... Diana's pretensions do not concur with the message that Korda, while alive, transmitted with his words and even more so with his actions," she submitted, alleging that the heiress is seeking to profit from Korda's work. "My children have no personal interest in making money from the photographic work of their father. They want it to be considered public work for the benefit of our society. They only want their children, my grandchildren, to know who their grandfather was and that his work belongs to the world. As he himself desired."

A half-year later Guffanti is no less incredulous. "We lived together 22 years," she says of her relationship with Korda. "That's a considerable time to live with another person. So I knew him. I can't believe that he would have signed that will consciously."

Dante, now staying on Miami Beach with sister Alejandra, reasons that the only way his father would have named Diana sole heiress is if he were crazy or drunk; he adds that Korda was an alcoholic. "The will is really an insult to the family," he declares. His intention in challenging the document, he adds, is to bring to light "the promise that he made during his life to all of his children, saying that his inheritance was equally for all his children."

To help his half-brother Dante's legal argument, Fidel Alberto sent him a letter signed by his Oslo-based lawyer. "We hereby confirm," the letter states, "that Alberto Korda ... has assigned all his copyrights and rights ... to our client, including the world famous photo of Ernesto Guevara." Those rights include "all of the photos which have been nationalized by the Cuban authorities," the letter notes. "Thus today Fidel Korda has an exclusive right to pursue and demand payment for any infringement of rights [pertaining] to his father's photos."

Diana disagrees. "The will was completed two years before the death of Mr. Korda and he was precisely thinking about the future and about the destination of his possessions and rights," states a court brief filed by her lawyer. "There is no contradiction if the government places the work of Korda in the category of Cultural Heritage and it is also awarded to the heiress." Her lawyer also rejected Dante's claim to an old Russian-made Lada coupe registered in Korda's name and to Korda's apartment.

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Kirk Nielsen
Contact: Kirk Nielsen