Lorna didn't get the amount she was seeking, even after a contentious 18-day trial in an extremely cramped courtroom that featured more than 100 exhibits, multiple expert witnesses and her irritated husband making faces at her lawyer Rutkin from the witness stand.
But a 420-page decision by Judge Kevin Tierney in 1998 awarded Lorna $20 million — much more than what Gary had offered her.
And some of that money represented the estimated value of the deferred compensation, which Gary Wendt's lawyers had argued should not be considered part of the marital estate.
Both parties later appealed Tierney's leviathan-like decision, which references, among much else, hotel heiress Leona Helmsley, the Irish poet W.B. Yeats, King Henry VIII and Claudia Sanders, the wife of Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Harlan Sanders.
Gary and Lorna ultimately settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
"It certainly wasn't 50-50. On the other hand, it was substantial," said Rutkin, who later married his co-counsel in the Wendt divorce, Sally Oldham.
Lorna Wendt, who had several grandchildren at the time of her death, went on to found the Institute for Equality in Marriage, a clearinghouse of divorce-related information, and often spoke out about her case.
An active traveler who visited Mount Kiliminjaro and participated in long-distance bicycle rides, Lorna served as vice chairman of the board of directors of Outward Bound International. She also had served several stints on the board of directors Outward Bound USA, and of the Stamford Symphony in Connecticut.
"She was an extraordinary woman," said Barbara Soroca, CEO of the symphony, who lived across the street from Lorna in Stamford both before and after her split with Gary.
"I think she did an amazing job at creating equality in marriage, and making certain that women have a say at the table," Soroca said.