Rolf Harris's £16m Will Discloses Heirs and Eleventh-Hour Bequest Alteration

Assistant Inherits Role in Harris's Posthumous Affairs

by Zain ul Abedin
Rolf Harris's £16m Will Discloses Heirs and Eleventh-Hour Bequest Alteration
© Carl Court/Getty Images

The late Rolf Harris, once a celebrated figure in entertainment, left behind a complex legacy marred by his conviction for erotic offenses, which culminated in a prison sentence. Harris, who passed away on May 10 due to neck cancer and age-related frailty, had amassed a fortune estimated at £16 million, a portion of which was attributed to his once-valued art collection.

Despite the controversy surrounding his later years, Harris's will has brought his financial affairs into the spotlight following his death. Harris's estate, which includes a substantial art collection previously valued at £12 million before his fall from grace, has been left primarily to his daughter, Bindi.

However, in a significant move before his passing, Harris appointed his devoted personal assistant, Lisa Ratcliff, as the executor of his will, entrusting her with the sole responsibility for his paintings. Ratcliff's discretion allowed Bindi to mourn in privacy, delaying the announcement of Harris's death to the registrar for 13 days to facilitate a secret burial.

Ratcliff's Loyal Stewardship

Ratcliff, who has been associated with Harris since 2000, was recognized for her unwavering support, managing his affairs with a protective zeal that extended from overseeing his care to handling media interactions.

William Merritt, a friend of Harris, noted Ratcliff's integral role in the artist's life, especially as Bindi navigated the challenges of caring for both her aging parents. The value of Harris's paintings, which once fetched upwards of £125,000 each, has undoubtedly diminished following his convictions.

Nonetheless, they remain a significant part of his estate, including a £7 million Berkshire mansion by the Thames. This property continues to be the residence of Harris's ailing wife, Alwen, who is battling Alzheimer's disease and requires round-the-clock care.

Alwen, a former actress and sculptor, now 91, lives in the shadow of her husband's notorious past, just a short drive from Windsor Castle, where Harris's portrait of the late Queen was unveiled in happier times. Despite his incarceration, Harris managed to secure a £1.4 million windfall from the dissolution of his business ventures and continued to accrue royalties and other assets.

Harris, who was released from prison in 2017, was cremated in a private ceremony near his home, leaving behind a fortune that reflects a tumultuous life of fame, creativity, and disgrace. As the executor of his will, Ratcliff now manages his remaining assets, ensuring that his estate is settled in accordance with his final wishes.