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Disputes, efforts to locate artwork in artist's estate

California fans of the late artist Robert Indiana may be aware that a lawsuit has been filed by the Morgan Art Foundation against the artist's caretaker and art dealer. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant kept the artist isolated from friends and professional colleagues and created fake paintings he then sold for millions.

The personal representative for the estate called a hearing that occurred on Sept. 12. The estate is valued at $60 million, but he is trying to determine whether there are additional assets. Afterward, the personal representative commented that he had identified more than 60 additional pieces of art and more than 100 pieces that the caretaker said were given to him as gifts. Furthermore, there were additional leads regarding other works of art at galleries throughout the world.

The artist's agent and his agent's son also testified at the hearing. The agent said he did not have paperwork that gave the Morgan Foundation copyrights to the artist's work from 1960 to 1984 although he was attempting to locate it. He also said he did not provide the artist with detailed paperwork regarding business transactions because Indiana did not want it. Indiana's will says estate proceeds should be used to restore his home and turn it into a museum and names the caretaker as the executive director.

Even in cases that involve less fame and wealth, there could be disputes over an estate plan following a person's death. For example, loved ones may feel that a new spouse exercised undue influence on the person's creation of an estate plan, making it invalid. Family members who are in this situation may want to contact an attorney to discuss what is involved in mounting a challenge.

Source: Central Maine, "Robert Indiana caretaker testifies he was paid $500,000 for his work", Stephen Betts and Bob Keyes, Sept. 12, 2018

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