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Legal fees near $4 million

Vinalhaven artist's estate value nears $100 million

By Stephen Betts | Dec 02, 2019
The Star of Hope on Vinalhaven had been artist Robert Indiana's home.

Rockland — The value of the estate of the late world-renowned artist Robert Indiana is approaching $100 million.

The attorney for the estate filed Monday, Dec. 2 -- in the Knox County Probate Court -- an accounting of the value of the estate as well as expenses incurred.

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.

Indiana's death has spurred legal battles between several parties both in Maine and New York City.

Attorney fees have added up to nearly $4 million, according to the filing.

Attorney James Brannan of Rockland, who represents the estate, said that since Indiana's death, he has recovered more than $5 million worth of art work for the estate. He expects millions more to be recovered and that the value of the estate will eventually top $100 million. The current total value is $90 million.

The estate was initially estimated at $28 million and that amount has been regularly increasing.

Brannan said filing the accounting now was prudent to do considering this was the largest estate ever handled in the Knox County Probate Court. He asked the court to approve the  accounting.

"I wanted the court to be aware," he said of the value of the estate and the expenses incurred.

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.

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.

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 elderly artist before his death.

A federal lawsuit filed by 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 it in museums.

Thomas has denied those allegations.

In May 2019, Brannan filed paperwork in court notifying Morgan Art Foundation Ltd. and Simon Salama-Caro that all their agreements with Indiana were terminated, and that Morgan was no longer authorized to reproduce any works based on images of Indiana’s art, including his “LOVE” design.

The estate also has informed American Image Art and McKenzie that their agreements with Indiana were terminated, and that they were no longer authorized to reproduce works based on images of Indiana’s art , including his “HOPE ” design.

Those efforts are being challenged in the federal lawsuit in New York City.

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