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