Liza-David Divorce Show Gets Going

01/08/2004 10:00AM

Soon-to-be-single Liza Minnelli was in Manhattan divorce court Wednesday, while, as her lawyer complained to the divorce judge, husband David Gest was avoiding the pretrial examination by hiding in Hawaii.

But Gest's attorney, Raoul Felder, said Gest is still in too much pain from the beatings he allegedly suffered at the hands of Minnelli during their 16-month marriage, Reuters reports.

In the courtroom, Minnelli's lawyer, Frederic J. Siegel, cited Gest's two legal actions against his client (a petition for divorce and a $10 million lawsuit in which he claims she beat him so badly that he suffered permanent injuries) and said: "Either he should come here and be deposed or withdraw his actions. There is no reason for him not to be here."

"The problem is he can't fly," Felder told the court. State Supreme Court Justice John Stackhouse is presiding.

The New York Post reports that the hearing was on the weird side, with Minnelli -- dressed entirely in black except for a flowing pink scarf with matching gloves -- walking in and asking the courtroom sketch artist to make her look pretty.

Then the two lawyers went at it, says the paper, and they argued over everything from Minnelli's cleanliness to what gifts the couple received at their star-studded March 2002 wedding. (Michael Jackson, who had introduced the couple, served as best man. This was Minnelli's fourth wedding, and Gest's first.)

Siegel reportedly claimed in court that Gest had sold off Minnelli's piano (a gift from composer Marvin Hamlisch) on eBay, along with other sentimental items belonging to the "Cabaret" Oscar winner.

Minnelli, 57, also is suing Gest, 49, a producer-promoter, claiming he stole money from her. Her lawsuit seeks at least $2 million in restitution, a financial accounting, legal fees and a court order for Gest to preserve all financial records related to her.

In addition, her attorney demands that Gest submit to a medical examination to prove he actually suffers the permanent disabilities he claims.

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