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How Toronto’s lavishly rich Latner family is tearing itself apart

Albert Latner made his fortune in real estate, health care and casinos, and lavished his four children with riches. After his wife died, he gave them their inheritance early. Now they’re feuding over the estate, launching lawsuit after lawsuit and tearing the family apart. A cautionary tale about the burdens of love and money

Latner vs. Latner Joshua Latner

In February 2010, Joshua Latner was alerted by several friends about a photo posted on the Internet. He sat down at his computer, Googled himself and was disturbed to find his picture with the word “loser” scrawled across his face.

Joshua is not, and has never been, a man with a nine-to-five job. An enthusiastic collector of fine wines and rare antiques, he is 49 years old and lives in Zurich with his wife, Kendal, and their two young children. He also maintains residences in Toronto, Key Biscayne and Tokyo and on the Greek island of Mykonos, where he raises chickens and honeybees as a hobby. He inherited $150 million when his father, Albert Latner, a Toronto property developer and entrepreneur, decided to give each of his four children what’s known in high-net-worth circles as the velvet handshake—shorthand for early inheritance.

Joshua had his suspicions about who posted the photo. His lawyers obtained a court order to uncover the Internet service provider, which turned out to be Rogers. The communications giant was compelled, in turn, to produce the name of the subscriber. It was Steven Latner, Joshua’s older brother and former business partner.

Although the photo soon disappeared from the Internet, Joshua was not willing to let the matter drop. Like the rest of his family, he knows how to use lawyers to inflict pain and make a point. He launched a defamation suit against an as yet unidentified person, and had his lawyers bring a motion to examine his brother to discover if he was the perpetrator. Steven’s lawyer, Ronald Moldaver, contested the motion on the grounds that his client has approximately five computers in his house and other members of the family and house staff all had access to them.

Steven Latner

The presiding judge, Joan Haberman, wasn’t buying it. She ordered Steven to submit to a 90-minute cross-examination. Moldaver, without success, had asked the judge to recuse herself from the case, on the grounds that she had presided over another Latner vs. Latner case earlier that year. In that previous instance, Haberman had described the Latners as “extremely litigious” and expressed her disappointment that such an affluent family could not find better ways to spend their money. “Litigation is not a sport,” she said, “and should never be treated as such.”

Haberman had reason to complain. For the past half-decade, the Latner family has been enmeshed in a web of litigation that is dizzyingly complex. Claims concerning an old car, a coin collection, a hand-embroidered chuppah and paintings by Picasso have been launched. Most are still crawling through the courts, and the allegations of all parties remain unproven.

For the super rich, the civil court system offers the promise of a place where feuds and rivalries can be redressed and sorted out by justice professionals. The Latners’ fight is one that takes place in the tender spot in all families, where love and money intersect. It’s the story about what a once-humble family can lose in the process of becoming great.

The Latner name is more established in Ontario than those of many of the old WASP families of Rosedale. The family first came to Canada in the late 1800s, emigrating from eastern Europe. Albert was born in Hamilton in 1927 and later moved with his parents to Toronto, where they lived in a house on Major Street, near Kensington Market, then the city’s thriving Jewish enclave. Albert’s dad worked at Tip Top Tailors, and the family got by, but just.

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  • CD

    Shame on this family. They are all a bunch of “LOSERS”.

  • Pedro

    I love this article, it is such a great summer read! Thanks Leah!

  • Balmoral

    Finally! A toronto life article with some actual personality and bite. Ditch the 15 page articles on zoo elephants and feature more of this!

  • Denise C

    I agree , its a great read , but there are all greedy and their wonderful parents do not deserve this
    No Respect

  • Lauren

    I can appreciate that the wealthy have different problems from us “normal folk”, but this is crazy. Suing your family over every grievence, every disagreement, sounds like the behaviour of an immature, self-entitled baby. It’s as if they’ve got nothing better to, so they amuse themselves by suing each other. And that lawyer should be ashamed of himself – he’s an enabler, not legal counsel.

  • Lauren

    I can appreciate that the wealthy have different problems from us “normal folk”, but this is crazy. Suing your family over every grievance, every disagreement, sounds like the behaviour of an immature, self-entitled baby. It’s as if they’ve got nothing better to, so they amuse themselves by suing each other. And that lawyer should be ashamed of himself – he’s an enabler, not legal counsel.

  • Liz

    If this was the way the family business was run, this was taught.

  • James

    This article is disgusting. Leave people alone. No one cares about this gossip. Crappy journalism at its best.

  • Julie Ciraco

    James,why so nasty? Disgusting article? Really?? I for one love to read about the problems of the very rich especially as I am currently un-employed and counting every penny. Family means nothing to these people, to be that greedy deserves no sympathy from me, these siblings are disgusting. To be given a house would be more than generous for most of us, to have no mortgage would make me positively giddy!

  • JoJo

    Why don’t they do a reality TV show – and it’s Canadian…

  • Jeff Black

    Fantastic Article..The bottom line is that even with all the millions and millions of dollars that these people have, there is no happiness..There is a tremendous rift that I am sure has Temmy spinning…Personality clashes happen, but to create a “them vs us” mentality in a family is sad….Leah has written an article that is a cautionary tale..It is important to have money, but family means much, much more..Albert is not a young man, he is a Grandfather and to ignore a Grandchild is ridiculous…I hope these people realize what is important in life before it is to late…It would be nice to read at some point in the future that they all sat down without their lawyers and discussed what needs to be fixed, yell, laugh, cry and talk not sue and remember what family is all about..I hope they do it for Temmy and future generations of the Latner family..

  • R0MA

    An example of the bottom-feeding antics of a family with no moral compass … mama dies and it’s to hell in a handbasket … the old lady must be spinning in her grave …. or laughing her fool head off!!!!!! Bwaahaha

  • nicole

    wow,even with money this is white trash at it’s finest…just with nicer trailer homes

  • victor*y

    I just finished rading this terrific article and kept wondering why the family even bothers to retain homes in Toronto. They would be better off somewhere in the miiddle east having tribal feuds as they collect their monies hourly. Being wealthy and having class is never a certainty.
    Or a guarantee.All the money that they have is eclipsed by their pitiful attitudes towards each other. What their parents had was self respect. Something that their money appears to be wilfully ueless in attaining. Their moral compasses are bankrupt and their sense of self worth is counterfeit. Thankfully Toronto Life chose to avoid having their names on the front cover and instead chose a skewer of meats and vegetables. Something that will be barbequed long after the bad taste of this family has left our memory.

  • Darlene

    Your mother would be so proud of what you’ve become…..shame on all of you.

  • mondayjane

    This is an excellent article – although a thoroughly depressing story. Temmy sounds like she had a goodness or integrity to offer of some sort, but I guess that trait being passed down to her children was completely overshadowed by their enormously dysfunctional trainwreck of a dad. After I read the article I felt that if Temmy were around there would be no lawsuits. Really sad.

  • Catherine

    Great article, kept me enrthralled. Had no idea that there were 17,000 housholds in Canada with over $30 million.

  • michelle

    Can a family friend please arrange for Albert to meet with all the grandchildren just to tell the love story of Albert and Temmy, show the photos, etc., in order to start the conversation, and get back to family roots. The children (Steven, Michael, Elise and Joshua) need to stay away from this event. Albert needs to reflect on Temmy and have a chance of to tell the story of Temmy’s values and sense of family, and Albert and Temmy devoted relationship. Do it before Albert passes away. Elise seems to have grasped the moral compass in seeing at least the chuppah incident through the eyes of her mother. But how does she stand a chance in dealing with her immature brothers. Albert- find your inner soul – remember Temmy and think about what she would want. There can be a happier ending here.

  • PS

    I hurt when I hear how money squabbles affect family relationships. This Latner “squabble” is quite extreme and although the story grabs the Toronto Life readers, such a story is better left behind closed doors…of family court and lawyers.
    Their monies have helped do good in the world but have destroyed their sense of family. How sad…
    Temmy Latner has no doubt rolled over and over and over again in her grave, her spirit surrounded by such ill-will amidst her husband and offspring.

  • Montreal

    Tax dollars hard at work!!

  • Jan Shimano

    I stumbled across this article about Al Latner and his family. I found it very interesting personally, as back in 1972 and 1973 and was junior secretary to Al Latner and Al Green. At that time Joshua was just a little boy around 7 or 8 years old.
    They were a very close family and they ate out in the best restaurants on a regular basis.
    Either Steven or Michael had a middle name of Elliot and I liked the name so much that I gave my son, who was born in 1973 the middle name of Elliot also.
    Mr. Latner was one of the most generous people I have ever worked for. He was interested in art back then and had a small art gallery. On special occasions, such as our birthday or wedding anniversary, he sent us down to a special room where he had lots of art work stocked and told us to select an item of our liking. I knew nothing about art so I would choose something that I liked the look of, not knowing if it was valuable or not.
    I still have two paintings hanging on my wall, and I believe that are Marino’s.
    Working for Mr. Latner was a highlight of my career some 40 years ago.

  • ed

    Short people will always be jerks.

  • Ha Ha

    Will Toronto Life be sued for publishing this article? LOL

  • Simonk

    For the sake of Temmy’s memories, honour and her love for you all, stop it all of you!!!

  • Marco

    I used to work for the Latner family on a personal level. I got to know them all, and they are some of the most generous and warm hearted people I have ever met. It is no secret that they are extremely well off, but they treated me like family and never once made me feel like an outsider. Every family has its problems, and a family with this amount of wealth is dealing with theirs. There is a lot of principle that goes behind their actions and with the amount of money they have I dont blame them for taking the steps that they did. This article paints the family as money hungry and greedy when they are nothing like that at all.

  • Debra

    Gee, how does one become a lawyer for the great shower of shite that is most of this family? That’s where the REAL money is! A fish stinks from the head down – Albert Latner deserves every bad thing that happens.

  • ChelseaCanuck

    This is sad but I have no sympathy. Unfortunately Albert and Temmy raised a bunch of spoiled brats and now Albert is having to deal with the fallout of that. Despite the older brothers’ accusation that Joshua has “never worked a day in his life” none of them have ever worked a day as far as I’m concerned. Being handed a position on a board without having to hustle, submit a resume, do a job interview on any of the things that normal people go through is not “work”. It’s passing the time. And to say it’s not about the money is ridiculous. If it’s not about the money, then drop it. Move on. Be happy. Realize how lucky you are and shut the hell up.

  • family worker

    This is an absolutely great family. I worked for them for over 12 years. I know every one of them personally and they all knew me quite well. They are just that to each other – FAMILY. YOU CAN BET ON THAT. Mr. & Mrs. Latner instilled in me that their wealth was in their family, not from money. This comes from someone who is not related to them whatsoever, in any way. I saw it everyday. I can go on and on with much proof. I have many memories of good things. This family has stuff that money can’t buy. This article is very shallow, and skirts around a superficial “tear”. A good read maybe. But, nowhere near the heart of this family.

    Allan

  • Old Friend

    I spent several years back in the late 70′s with Josh at St. George’s College in Toronto. During those years I got to know Josh and his family well. They were wonderful and generous people and always made me feel comfortable in their homes.

    Your article makes them out to be villains which I know they are not. To be sure Temmy was the glue that held this family together. What an amazingly grounded woman and genuinely kind woman. Losing her must have hurt her children as much as it hurt Albert.

    They are great people that unfortunately have to solve their personal issues in the public eye. They will work it out, I just hope that they can do it before they loose their father.

  • Old Friend

    What the article doesn’t articulate well is that Josh is a very intelligent, well educated and disciplined person. In the years that I knew Josh , he was always working on some new business idea….I remember the kids sneakers he envisioned that you could draw on on erase. Josh called them “Scriblblers” I believe. He had ideas to be sure, and big ideas at that. He has a lot of his father’s creative business mind.

    Josh has always been a big thinker and a free spirit. The fact that he chose to live his life free of the burden of a 9 to 5 job is a privilege that his parents works hard to give him. I respect his decision and know that it was the right decision for him.

  • Fred D Roper

    I will answer this with a short and sweet comment
    Money can not buy health or happiness so enjoy the people you still have ,once they are gone you can bring them back I lost my Mom Dad and a lot of family connections and miss them so much money will never heal that so be happy enjoy life

    I wish i was rich but it was not meant for me so i enjoy what i have

 

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