Personal loss and legal wrangles have visited the famous fishing family in the last year.
Matriarch Branka Simunovich, founder of olive beauty product lines Olive and Tebe, died suddenly last June. Her death is now having its sequel in the courts.
Branka Simunovich and her husband Ivan Simunovich planted the Simunovich Olive Estate in the Bombay Hills, south of Auckland, at the turn of this century. The 96ha property, abundant with some 40,000 trees, also houses the famed Bracu Restaurant.
The family first made its fortune in fishing: Ivan – who started out as the owner of a small fish and chip shop in Glen Innes in the 1960s – went on to build a piscatorial empire. He sold it to fishing group Sanford in 2004 for $137 million.
Three years after that sale, Ivan and Branka – who had been living in a de facto relationship for over a decade – wed. It was Branka’s second marriage. But in 2009, Ivan returned to his Croatian homeland, leaving Branka behind in the Bombay Hills.
Now, two daughters from Branka’s first marriage are considering making a claim potentially worth $20 million against Ivan Simunovich.
Details of the case emerged in a High Court judgment after the daughters and Ivan’s son, Peter, could not agree who had the right to be administrator of Branka’s estate. She died intestate and her daughters are said to be of limited financial means, according to the judgment.
Peter Simunovich continues to operate a number of business interests. His latest is as a director of Orewa Beach Apartments, currently developing a multi-million luxury apartment block on Orewa Beach, north of Auckland.