“My only other job was borrowing from people,” he said. “The point was to survive.”
Beagle has been married three times, but since he was five years old he has had the same best friend, a painter named Phil Signick. One of his first books, “I See By My Outfit,” was about a cross-country motor scooter trip taken by two of his friends in the 1960s. Beagle remembered something Signic had liked to say over the years. (But with salty curse words thrown in.)
When Beagle met Cochrane in 2001, he was in the middle of a divorce and deep in debt. The two men began working together, and eventually Cochrane began managing the Beagle’s finances, paying the Beagle’s bills and giving him money “as if he had been a parent managing allowances for his children.” handed out.
Cochrane, who is also a writer, founded a company called Avicenna Development Corporation to store both his intellectual property and that of the Beagle. The two men split ownership 50-50 with him, but Cochrane was configured to control the business, according to court documents. Beagle said in court that he had no knowledge of some of the money he made based on his work, including his $100,000 payout over the rights dispute over “The Last Unicorn.”
“I trusted Connor,” Beagle said. “It was a mistake.”
In 2015, Beagle sued Cochrane in California Superior Court — a difficult trial, he said, in which two of Beagle’s children testified against him. Turning around, he noticed that his lawyer, Kathleen Hunt, was holding his hand.
Cochrane was accused of financial abuse, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty of the elderly. He was also held liable for defamation for telling Beagle’s friends, family and business associates that the writer had dementia.