In­vestor Hu­bert Neu­man Sues Daugh­ter to Stop Auc­tion of Basquiat Graf­fiti Mas­ter­piece

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Rachel Shapiro

Awork plot suit­able for a Hol­ly­wood film has been un­rav­el­ing around a

by the late graf­fiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. This story in­volves the on­go­ing feud of a Man­hat­tan fam­ily and is filled with ac­cu­sa­tions of be­trayal, abuse and a change to a will made on a death-bed.

Ac­cord­ing to court records, 86-year-old in­vestor Hu­bert Neu­mann al­leges that his grown daugh­ter went be­hind his back in 2015 and had is sick wife, who was “re­ceiv­ing se­ri­ous med­i­cal treat­ment” at the time, sign over the rights to the mas­ter­piece “Flesh and Spirit” that is worth sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars.

In Septem­ber 2016 Neu­mann's wife, Dolores, suc­cumb to her liver can­cer and passed away. Now, Neu­mann says his 51-year-old daugh­ter, Belinda, is at­tempt­ing to sell the gi­ant paint­ing, which spans 12 feet by 12 feet, for $30 mil­lion at an auc­tion at Sotheby's sched­uled for next week. How­ever, Neu­mann has filed a suit to halt the auc­tion.

Neu­man's lawyer, An­drew G. Celli Jr. of Emery Celli Brinck­er­hoff & Abady. Said, “Sotheby's broke its prom­ise to Hu­bert Neu­mann and pri­or­i­tized short-term profit and pres­tige over its con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions.”

Ac­cord­ing to The Post, “Neu­mann says his daugh­ter, who is an art gal­lerist, strong-armed her mother into chang­ing the will so that it gives her the right to 80 per­cent of the paint­ing's pro­ceeds. The rea­son given for the change in the will is that Belinda ‘does not have fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity on her own or through her hus­band and has three chil­dren to sup­port.' The will gives el­dest daugh­ter. Kristina Neu­mann, 53, just 10 per­cent and a third daugh­ter, Melissa Neu­mann, 48, the other 10 per­cent plus $1 mil­lion be­cause ‘she has a wealthy hus­band.' Fi­nally, Dolores, who was friends with Basquiat in the 1980s, dis­in­her­ited her hus­band in the new will, ex­plain­ing: ‘He has been phys­i­cally abu­sive.'”

“I'm not ac­cept­ing the fact that I did any­thing like that to her,” Hu­bert Neu­man told The Post.

The law­suit he filed in Man­hat­tan Supreme Court is claim­ing that un­der New York law it is il­le­gal to dis­in­herit a spouse.

The Post re­ports that Melissa is plan­ning to con­test the doc­u­ment in Sur­ro­gate's Court, while the news out­let was un­able to get com­ments from Belinda and her at­tor­ney, who didn't re­turn their calls.

A spokes­woman for Sotheby's said, “This 11th-hour claim is en­tirely with­out merit, and we are con­fi­dent that the court will find in our fa­vor and the auc­tion will pro­ceed as sched­uled.”

The late graf­fiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1983 work “Flesh and Spirit.” (Photo via Sotheby’s)

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