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AG asks for details on legal fees billed to famed artist estate

By Stephen Betts | Jan 08, 2020
Robert Indiana

Rockland — The Maine Attorney General's Office has asked the Knox County Probate Court to order that additional details be given on the nearly $4 million in legal fees billed to the estate of world-renowned artist Robert Indiana.

Assistant Attorneys Generals Linda Conti and Christina Moylan filed Monday, Jan. 6 the petition for a review of compensation.

A pre-trial hearing on the motion is scheduled for Feb. 5 at the courtroom in Rockland.

The assistant attorneys general say the information provided thus far lists the names of law firms, but no additional details. The state also argues that the same lack of detail was included in the fees from the personal representative.

"Fees of this order of magnitude should not be simply paid from estate assets (ultimately charitable assets) without appropriate review by interested parties and this court for reasonableness," the AG's motion states.

The AG is involved in the estate case because the agency has oversight over disbursing funds for charitable organizations.

Indiana's will -- signed by Indiana in May 2016 -- left nearly his entire estate to support the not-for-profit organization Star of Hope Inc., which will turn his home and studio into a museum.

The estate is valued at nearly $100 million.

Indiana died May 19, 2018, at the age of 89 from heart problems at his home named Star of Hope on the Penobscot Bay island of Vinalhaven.

Jamie L. Thomas of Vinalhaven will run the museum, per the will.

Thomas and the estate had been battling in state court. Thomas wants the estate to cover his legal expenses while the estate claims that Thomas, who served as a caretaker for Indiana, took advantage of the elderly artist before his death.

A federal lawsuit filed by the Morgan Art Foundation in New York May 18, 2018 -- the day before Indiana died -- accuses Thomas and Michael McKenzie of isolating and exploiting Indiana, forging his art and exhibiting some of the forgery in museums.

Thomas has denied those allegations.

Those issues remain unresolved in state and federal courts.

Attorney James Brannan of Rockland, the personal representative for Indiana's estate, pointed out he filed Dec. 2 an account of expenses in an effort to be completely transparent.

"I have nothing to hide and will cooperate fully with the Court," Brannan said Wednesday, Jan. 8.

This is the largest estate handled in the Knox County Probate Court.

The law firm of Hogan Lovells LLP, based in London and Washington, D.C. has been paid $1,562,040. The law firm of Venable LLP, based in Washington, D.C., has been paid $1,397,611. Pierce Atwood LLP of Portland has been paid $211,907, Preti Flaherty of Portland has been paid $96,303, LeBlanc & Young LLP of Portland has been paid $16,128, and Attorney Kelly Mellenthin has been paid $645.

Brannan has been paid $550,000 as personal representative, which includes expenses he has incurred for the estate.

In addition to the legal fees, Pinkerton Security has been paid about $211,000 for security for the artwork and properties.

The cost for appraisal and relocation of the artwork has totaled $387,000 with the largest amount going to estate appraiser Bruce Gamage Jr. who was paid $284,616.

Rental storage costs totaled $112,000.

Miscellaneous expenses in maintaining the house totaled $115,000, including $72,000 for roof work.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 10, 2020 13:25

Sad...and the circle of vultures gets bigger. A lot of dollars paid out for such a supposedly non-profit art studio.

Posted by: Lawrence Edward Galkowski | Jan 09, 2020 06:26

Vultures feeding from the dead.

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