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Widow of Oleg Cassini temporarily out of Nassau jail

Marianne Nestor Cassini, the widow of late fashion

Marianne Nestor Cassini, the widow of late fashion designer Oleg Cassini, sits outside Nassau County Surrogate's Court on Aug. 16. Credit: Newsday/Bridget Murphy

A judge has freed the widow of famed fashion designer Oleg Cassini from Nassau's jail on an "interim release" after she spent more than two months behind bars for civil contempt during her second jailing in the battle over dividing her late spouse's nearly $60 million estate.

State Supreme Court Justice Jack Libert granted Marianne Nestor Cassini a jail furlough on Wednesday that will last until at least April 1, according to his order.

The ruling says the designer's widow is apparently suffering from a serious ophthalmological condition that requires immediate attention.

The judge's order adds: "The court sees no reason to deny an interim release of petitioner."

Oleg Cassini, the designer behind Jacqueline Kennedy's White House wardrobe, died in 2006 at age 92.

The yearslong battle over his estate first pitted Nestor Cassini against her late husband's two daughters from his marriage to 1940s film star Gene Tierney. Now she is battling his grandson.

Nestor Cassini's latest imprisonment at the East Meadow facility followed her six-month stint there that ended in November.

Nassau Surrogate's Court Judge Margaret Reilly jailed Nestor Cassini again in January, ordering that she remain an inmate until agreeing to cooperate with the court-appointed receiver charged with gathering the assets of Oleg Cassini's two companies.

Libert's order came after Nestor Cassini filed a petition that sought her jail release "on the grounds of the impossibility of performing the acts necessary to purge her contempt," his ruling says.

On Monday, Libert referred the case back to Reilly's court.

But Wednesday, an attorney for Nestor Cassini told Libert that Reilly was unavailable until April 1 and advised the judge about the widow's medical needs.

Libert wrote in his ruling that Nestor Cassini's furlough will last until April 1, or any later time that Reilly may set for the widow to make an argument about why she shouldn't go back to jail.

Libert's ruling ordered jail officials to release Nestor Cassini into the custody of her sister, Peggy Nestor, who also has played a role in the late Oleg Cassini's business empire.

Records show jail officials released Nestor Cassini on Wednesday evening.

The attorney who handled the widow's jail release petition couldn't be reached Thursday. Other parties to the estate battle didn't respond to requests for comment.

The widow's second jailing for contempt followed what the court-appointed receiver, Garden City attorney Rosalia Baiamonte, described in a court filing as a "maniacal tirade" by the widow in January.

The receiver alleged Nestor Cassini called the NYPD on her as she tried to collect company assets at a Manhattan property with auction house employees.

Baiamonte said the widow violated a judge's order by showing up at the office and showroom space, where she spewed vulgarities and accused the group of trespassing and stealing her belongings.

Baiamonte also said Nestor Cassini tried to get her dog to attack her, threatened to burglarize her home, and claimed she was "the sole owner" of Cassini's assets.

Judges have found otherwise.

In 2015, a judge awarded half the estate to Cassini's daughters and the other half to the widow.

Reilly later found evidence the widow had moved estate assets into her own name and fined her millions.

Reilly originally jailed Nestor Cassini in May 2018 after finding her in contempt for not complying with an order compelling her to share financial documents with the receiver for the deceased's two companies.

More recently, Reilly found Nestor Cassini lied about her date of birth and Social Security number.

In her latest jailing, Nestor Cassini was listed as age 76, only months after she was listed as a 68-year-old inmate.

The estate's assets include a 43-acre property in Oyster Bay Cove, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis memorabilia and keepsakes from the late Princess Grace of Monaco — American movie star Grace Kelly.

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