Late artist’s museum dreams mired in lawsuit over estate
ROCKLAND, Maine — Pop artist Robert Indiana had a simple wish: He wanted to transform his island home into a museum to preserve and show his art collection to the public.
The reality is far more complicated.
Lawyers recently gathered in Knox County Probate Court and questioned people close to Indiana about the pop artist’s $60-million US assets, including his famous LOVE series.
But the process of sorting out those assets and getting the museum started will likely be delayed because of a lawsuit alleging Indiana’s caretaker and an art publisher took advantage of him and produced forgeries, accusations the pair denies. It was filed by the company that owns the copyright to several of his most famous works.
“I don’t see us beginning this process until the litigation is over,” said James Brannan, lawyer for the estate.
The reclusive artist died at age 89 on May 19 at his home on Vinalhaven Island, off Maine.
Last week, Jamie Thomas, Indiana’s caregiver and power of attorney, acknowledged receiving more than 100 pieces of Indiana’s artwork as gifts over the years. Testimony suggested he also was paid about $490,000 and withdrew $615,000 at Indiana’s request from bank accounts in the final two years of the artist’s life.
Under Indiana’s will, Thomas would run the foundation and museum.
Indiana is best known for LOVE, created in the 1960s and recognizable around the world. Couples have their photo taken at the LOVE sculpture in Philadelphia, and the iconic image was used on postage stamps.
He was a popular artist in New York, but retreated in 1978 to Maine.
His death was deemed not suspicious, though the official cause of death is “undetermined.”