Minnelli accuses Gest
of hiding in Hawaii

Liza Minnelli, who is divorcing husband David Gest, appeared briefly yesterday in a Manhattan courtroom where her lawyer complained that Gest was avoiding pretrial examination by hiding in Hawaii.

Minnelli's lawyer, Frederic J. Siegel, noted that Gest has filed two legal actions against the entertainer -- a petition for divorce and a lawsuit in which he alleges that she beat him so badly that he suffered permanent injuries.

"Either he should come here and be deposed or withdraw his actions," Siegel said. "There is no reason for him not to be here."

He said that Gest should submit to a medical exam to confirm his condition to the court.

Gest's lawyer, Raoul Felder, said his client is in Hawaii undergoing physical therapy, including 20 injections on Tuesday, to recover from Minnelli's frequent assaults.

"The problem is he can't fly," Felder told the court.

Felder also suggested that Siegel wanted Gest's medical information to get a head start on his defense of Minnelli in the $10 million civil assault case Gest filed against her.

Meanwhile, Minnelli has sued Gest for $2 million, 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.

State Supreme Court Justice John Stackhouse, who is overseeing the divorce case, welcomed Minnelli to his courtroom. "I'm happy you're here," he said, and noted that Gest was absent for medical reasons.

Minnelli, 57, dressed in black except for a pink wool muffler and gloves, refused to comment after she signed some papers and left the courtroom.

Minnelli and Gest married March 16, 2002, at a celebrity-studded ceremony that featured best man Michael Jackson carrying the bride's train and Elizabeth Taylor serving as maid of honor.

The two were introduced to each other by Jackson when Gest, a producer and promoter, produced Jackson's 30th anniversary tribute concert for television. They separated last July.

Felder objected to remarks in Minnelli's court papers, including an allegation that Gest had sold her piano -- given to her by Marvin Hamlisch -- on eBay.

Felder also took exception to the allegation that whenever Minnelli "tried to sit on his (Gest's) lap or kiss him, he would hold her off." And he objected to court papers filed by Siegel that claim Gest called Minnelli a slob and said she was "not clean enough."

After a conference in chambers, the judge said he and both sides agreed that a prenuptial agreement the couple signed about a week before they married would control the division of marital and post-marital assets.

Felder said the agreement, "pretty much neutral" because each keeps what he or she brought to the marriage, was good for his client since he earned $2.7 million in 2001 while Minnelli made $150,000. He called that a "pretty good deal" for her.

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