The will of Sydney lesbian nightclub owner Dawn O’Donnell, who died last year aged 79, is being challenged by her former partner.

O’Donnell, who made her fortune from Sydney’s gay saunas, nightclubs and sex shops, left her wife of 30 years, Aniek Baten, $3 million but not the Mosman home where the couple had lived since they bought it for $5.4 million in 2002.

The executor, accountant Max Cowley, has allegedly already asked Baten to leave the house.

Baten, now 58, has started legal action in the Supreme Court of NSW for a bigger share of O’Donnell’s $16 million estate, claiming she is not adequately provided for in the will.

After some bequests to friends and colleagues, O’Donnell left the bulk of her estate to animals and actors.

Australia’s premier acting school, NIDA, has been bequeathed her extensive art collection, including works by Picasso, Fred Williams, Margaret Olley, Lloyd Rees, Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan, William Dobell, Donald Friend and Lucien Freud.

The rest of O’Donnell’s estate, including her wine collection, is to be divided between NIDA, Taronga Zoo (for scholarships for the purpose of training staff in animal care) and to the animal rescue service WIRES.


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