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NASSAU (Reuters) - A former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, was identified on Tuesday as the father of Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith's 7-month-old daughter after DNA test results were released by a Bahamas court.
The revelation brought to an appropriately dramatic climax a tabloid maelstrom that was kicked off by the abrupt death of the buxom widow of a billionaire from an accidental drug overdose in a Florida hotel casino on February 8.
Her baby, Dannielynn, could one day be worth a fortune if Smith's estate wins a decade-long battle to inherit from former oil tycoon husband J. Howard Marshall.
"I hate to be the one to tell you this but, I told you so," Birkhead, a Los Angeles photographer, said outside the court in Nassau. "Nothing's really determined except parentage and I'm the father."
"I'm going to the toy store," he said.
Smith's death at age 39 with nine different prescription medicines flowing through her veins touched off a battle among her mother, Virgie Arthur, longtime companion Howard K. Stern and Birkhead, not only for her body, but also over the former topless dancer's baby. Stern was listed as the father on Dannielynn's Bahamian birth certificate.
Smith shot into the headlines in September when her 20-year-old son, Daniel, died suddenly while sleeping in a chair near his mother in a Bahamas hospital room just three days after she had given birth to Dannielynn.
An inquest into Daniel's death is under way in the Bahamas but a private pathologist hired by Smith and Stern found he most likely died of a dangerous mix of prescription drugs, including the heroin substitute methadone.
Stern, who had lived in the Bahamas with Smith since the middle of last year and was previously her attorney, said he was disappointed when U.S. DNA expert Michael Baird told Bahamas Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs that Dannielynn's DNA was a more than 99.9 percent match with Birkhead's.
But he said he was no longer going to fight his rival.
"I'm going to do everything I can to make sure he (Birkhead) gets sole custody," Stern said. "This whole process, everything, has been very difficult."
Stern has vowed to ensure that Smith's estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, does not gain custody of Dannielynn.
Arthur, who fought to have Smith buried in her native Texas, said she was relieved that her granddaughter "will now know who her father is."
"This has been a roller coaster," she said. "We've lost a grandson. Please don't forget that."
Court hearings over custody were to begin on Friday.