Anyone with siblings knows the knock-down-drag-out fights that you ended up in as kids, but this is a case in which a dispute between siblings is headed to court. On August 28th, Keith Donaldson officially filed a lawsuit against his brother, Robert, concerning the sale of a pair of screenprints by Andy Warhol entitled Moonwalk. The lawsuit, filed in a Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota, alleges that the sale of the Warhols was ‘unauthorized.’
In 1999 the Donaldson brothers acquired an edition of Moonwalk (160 editions to be exact), a set of two prints by Warhol, according to the suit paperwork. After they purchased the works, Robert kept both of the works and nearly 10 years later in 2018, Keith asked to have one out of the two prints from Robert, which he felt was his half. At that time, Keith found out that just two years earlier, Robert sold the pair of prints for $200,000. In the end, Robert received a total of around $180,000. Now, Keith is suing for the return of the print he believed to be his or at least $140,000, which the suit claims in fair market value for one print out of the pair.
The prints were from the ‘TV’ series Warhol began to highlight monumental moment in history that were also major moments of American television. Warhol began the series with Moonwalk, which featured stills of Buzz Aldrin and the American flag that were merged together. The Moonwalk editions were printed just months before Warhol died in 1987 and thus, the ‘TV’ series was never fully seen through. If Warhol had lived longer, the series was going to include other moments like Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, I Love Lucy, and the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
It is possible that the prints sold by Robert could have brought in more if he’d waited til now to sell as this year is the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. Earlier this year in April, a full set of the Moonwalk prints sold at Sotheby’s capitalizing on the anniversary year. The pair’s pre-sale estimate was set at $250,000 and $350,000 and in the end, they garnered $312,500. ‘Warhol combined two separate photographs of Buzz Aldrin and the American flag, both NASA stills taken by Neil Armstrong, to create the screen print,’ said Sotheby’s prior to the auction. ‘The resulting composition is an iconic element of Warhol’s printmaking that illustrates not only the lasting impact of the moon landing but also the artist’s own profound effect on American visual culture.’
In the lawsuit, Keith’s attorney Julie Nagorski wrote: ‘Robert intentionally and improperly converted to his own use Keith’s art by selling it and intentionally and improperly converted to Robert’s own use of the proceeds of the sale of Keith’s art.’