Legal dispute centers around late artist’s estate

by | Jun 14, 2018 | Probate Litigation |

The estates of artists can be complex and can lead to many people fighting over them after the person has passed. This is especially true when there were disagreements and dueling assertions as to what the testator wanted. When these issues cannot be solved by examining the documents, a legal dispute is likely. While it is preferable for a testator to take the necessary steps to have a comprehensive estate plan that clearly defines their goals, that does not always happen and a court battle can come about.

The artist who created the famous New York “LOVE” sculpture is the subject of a court battle over who was in control of his work. Robert Indiana, who died at the age of 89 on May 19, had an estate worth approximately $28 million. In his will, he left most of his estate to a non-profit entity. The plan is for his home to become a museum. His caretaker was designated to oversee the organization.

However, a company stating that it has the rights to Mr. Indiana’s work has filed a case in federal court saying that he had been isolated and versions of his work were produced without being authorized by him. The plaintiffs say that the caretaker should not have control over Mr. Indiana’s work. The attorney for Mr. Indiana, who is his executor, stated that the caretaker is simply following the requests made by the testator. Mr. Indiana’s assets were not listed in detail in the estate plan. He did not have immediate family.

For those who are aged and do not have any immediate family, it is sometimes inevitable that there will be assertions of undue influence. In the art world, this can be a common occurrence. Those who are facing a legal dispute over assets should be prepared for estate litigation and have experienced legal assistance in the case to sift through the issues, the documents and help in settling the matter either via negotiation or in court.