Threat to tell all: … Hope Rinehart. Photo: Jeff Atkinson
"Why the hell don't you just take the $300 million dollars mum has repeatedly offered you and walk away," Ginia Rinehart told her estranged sister Hope in a fiery email exchange.
The email, written two months after legal action was taken in 2011 by three of Gina Rinehart's four children to remove her as trustee of the multibillion dollar family trust, sheds light on the breakdown in the family relationship and suggests a secret deal had been offered to Hope to "walk away".
"You clearly do not want to be a part of our family, nor have you ever wanted to be part of the company, so take the money and walk away from everything! That way you can not have to deal with mum as trustee!," Ginia wrote to Hope on November 22, 2011.
Illustration: Rocco Fazzari
In sharp contrast, Gina's son, John Hancock, had attempted to make his own secret deal with his mother - days before legal action was taken - in which he would receive a multimillion-dollar salary and a $15 million ''sorry payment'' for his mother's treatment of him over the years. Mrs Rinehart rejected his proposal.
Seventeen months later, Hope has withdrawn from the legal action, leaving two children fighting the battle, but details of the settlement remain confidential.
But it is understood that Hope's relationship with Ginia still needs a lot of work after a bitter falling out that has torn the family apart.
The emails reveal the financial and emotional pressure Hope was placed under as she spearheaded the legal action with her half-brother John and half-sister Bianca.
Living in New York with her two children and husband Ryan Welker, who had lost his position on the Mineral Resources board a month after the legal action began in September, Hope told Ginia she was "desperate" because "Mem stopped my Trust payments".
Hope said if she couldn't find the money to pay her daughter's pre-school fees, she might have to "sell myself to the f---ing media". "I'm in a corner w[with] a gun at my head, I can't afford rent, I can't afford the kids education, I don't know what else to do or who else to ask. Please help."
For a family that shuns the media glare, Hope's threat was seen as outrageous. "How disgusting do you have to be to threaten me with cheap talk about selling stories to the media!'' Ginia told Hope in an email on November 22, 2011. ''I actually didn't think it was possible for you to stoop any lower, but voila you proved me wrong again.
"Not that you deserve a penny as you have never worked a day in your life but if you cannot live with 300 million dollars for doing absolutely nothing then you really are disgusting," she said.
Days later, on November 26, Ginia's fiancé´, Ryan Johnston, kept the pressure on Hope. "I feel as your friend I need to tell you something … you're facing a massive uphill battle and there is one thing they have a lot of and you don't, money.''