Over $2 million will be paid to the charity established by late artist Robert Indiana through a settlement between Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey and the personal representative of the artist’s estate over excessive legal fees.
The attorney general sued the representative, James Brannan, in 2020, claiming he overpaid himself and several law firms during the course of extensive litigation that the estate was battling following Indiana’s death in 2018. On Monday, the attorney general’s office announced that it has reached a resolution of all claims against Brannan and the four firms.
Since the sole benefactor of Indiana’s estate is a charitable foundation established by the late artist, the Star of Hope Inc., the attorney general has oversight in the matter. The Star of Hope works to promote visual arts education through exhibits, a museum and an artists in residence program, according to its website.
“Every dollar going unnecessarily to pay lawyers and the Personal Representative was another dollar unavailable to the charity to fulfill its mission and Robert Indiana’s vision,” Frey said in a news release Monday. “This office is pleased our work preserved significant resources to be used for the benefit of the Star of Hope, Inc.”
Indiana, a renowned pop artist known for his “LOVE” and “HOPE” series died at the age of 89 on May 19, 2018, at his Vinalhaven home, the Star of Hope. He had been living in Maine since the late 1970s.
Since his death, the late artist’s estate has been working to resolve a litany of legal disputes.
The day before Indiana died, he was named in a lawsuit filed by Morgan Art Foundation in New York federal court, which alleged that Indiana’s caretaker on Vinalhaven and McKenzie were isolating the artist and creating fraudulent work. The estate settled its lawsuit with Morgan Art Foundation last summer resolving the copyright issues surrounding his “LOVE” artwork. A second lawsuit regarding similar issues surrounding his “HOPE” artwork is still ongoing.
To date, the estate has spent over $10 million on legal fees and settlements, according to the attorney general’s office.
The attorney general claimed about $3.7 million of these fees paid to four law firms were excessive, as well as about $400,000 collected by Brannan.
Most, if not all, of the $2 million plus settlement announced Monday has already been paid to the Star of Hope Inc., according to Nicole Sacre, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office.
“I disagree with the Attorney General’s allegations, but I’m pleased to put an end to the dispute. I will remain as Personal Representative of the Estate and will continue to fulfill my promise to Robert Indiana that I would administer his Estate. The Estate was valued at $90 million when Mr. Indiana died. My efforts and excellent work by my lawyers recovered an additional $80 million for the benefit of the charity I helped Mr. Indiana create, Star of Hope—an extraordinary result,” Brannan said in a statement Monday.