Since Robert Indiana passed away in May of last year, his estate has been embroiled in several legal battles over its ownership. Now, it’s estimated to be worth around $100 million, further complicating an already complicated battle.
The artist, who is best known for his iconic “LOVE” works and the similar “HOPE” imagery he made for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign of 2008, passed away from natural causes at the age of 89. At the time of his death, the value of his estate was at around $28 million, but demand for his works has been growing regularly ever since.
In an accounting filed last week, James Brannan, the estate’s lawyer, announced its new valuation and speculated that it would continue to grow. Brannan said that he has uncovered over $5 million worth of art works so far, and is expecting to recover millions more. Also according to the filings, attorney fees have almost reached $4 million.
“Right now we’re close to $100 million, and it’s going to be more than that because we’re still recovering pieces [of his artwork] worldwide,” Brannan said.
In Indiana’s will, he left almost his entire estate to the nonprofit organization Star of Hope Inc., named after his home on the island of Vinalhaven in Maine. The organization has vowed to convert his home into a museum which will be run by his former caretaker, Jamie Thomas. Thomas has been sued by Indiana’s estate for allegedly “leaving the artist to live in squalor and filth” while pocketing $1.1 million and over 100 artworks from the artist. The estate has also taken legal action against two companies to stop the reproduction of the late artist’s iconic “LOVE” works.
The day before he died, he was named in a lawsuit filed by the Morgan Art Foundation alleging that Thomas and Indiana’s art publisher Michael McKenzie were isolating the artist and creating fake works.
Also in New York federal court back in May, Brannan filed notices that the contract Indiana had with Morgan Art Foundation and Indiana’s agent and adviser to Morgan, Simon Salama-Caro, for the reproduction of his “LOVE” images, as well as the contract with McKenzie and his company American Image Art for the reproduction of his “HOPE” images, should have expired when the artist died.
In Maine, the estate is being sued by Thomas, seeking $2 million to pay for the legal fees he is facing in relation to the New York lawsuit. In response, Brannan filed documents in court that accused the caretaker of neglecting his duties to Indiana by allowing the artist to live unfavourably while Thomas “lined his pockets.” Thomas denied the allegations.