Robert Indiana’s Lawyer, Accused of Overpaying Himself by Millions, Has Reached a Settlement With the Artist’s Estate

One chapter in the knotty, seemingly interminable legal saga over Robert Indiana’s estate has reached its conclusion.

In April 2021, Aaron Frey, the attorney general of Maine, where Indiana died in 2018, accused the executor of the artist’s estate of overpaying himself and other legal representatives by some $3.7 million. Frey ordered that the money be paid back to the estate so that Indiana’s dream of turning his Vinalhaven, Maine home into a museum and education center could be fulfilled.

Now, the two warring parties have reached a settlement.

This week, Frey announced that all claims against the estate executor, lawyer James Brannan, and four law firms hired by Brannan, have been resolved. The agreement totals over $2 million, Frey explained, the majority of which has been paid back to the estate by the law firms in refunds and credits. 

“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,” the attorney general said in his announcement.

“I disagree with the attorney general’s allegations, but I’m pleased to put an end to the dispute,” Brannan said in a statement to Artnet News. He said he would remain a personal representative of the estate in order to “fulfill my promise to Robert Indiana.”

Robert Indiana’s The Great American Love (Love Wall). Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

A major figure in the Pop art movement, Indiana was undoubtedly best known for his “Love” works, which were widely reproduced. In contrast to the ubiquity of that particular design, Indiana preferred reclusiveness, living quietly on an island off the coast of Maine for the last four decades of his life. 

Just one day before Indiana’s death in 2018, the longtime representative and holder of his copyrights, the Morgan Art Foundation (which is not a nonprofit) filed a lawsuit against the artist; his caretaker, Jamie Thomas; and New York-based publisher Michael McKenzie, alleging that the latter two had conspired to isolate Indiana from his family and friends and sell forged artworks in his name.

Last March the Morgan reached an out-of-court settlement with Indiana’s estate, effectively resolving all claims in the case, which included allegations of defamation, breach of contract, copyright infringement, and violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act. 

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but in June, the foundation and the artist’s estate chose to form a partnership and jointly promote the artist’s work. 

Now, just one more legal war looms over Indiana’s legacy.

In December, the Morgan Art Foundation filed a new motion against McKenzie, alleging, once again, that the publisher forged Indiana’s artwork and defamed the foundation.

Once that remaining case has been resolved, Brannan said he “will file a final accounting and inventory with the probate court to close the estate.”

The post Robert Indiana’s Lawyer, Accused of Overpaying Himself by Millions, Has Reached a Settlement With the Artist’s Estate appeared first on Artnet News.

Share This Post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

On Key

Related Posts

Chance Encounters

Bieke Depoorter’s (b. 1984) breakthrough project Ou Menya saw her traveling the Trans Siberian railway, staying the night with strangers met along the way. Chance meetings and random encounters have proved pivotal to the Belgian visual artist’s practice ever since, resulting in series such as Agata, an artistic collaboration and friendship spanning more than four

Liarmouth: A Feel Bad Romance by John Waters

Although the Memorial Easter Egg hunt had to be canceled due to “protocols,” ‘John Waters played gracious host at the Madonna Inn, an annual event which included an Easter Bunny photo studio for guests to “relive your awkward childhood mall portrait fantasies,” and this year, a 30th anniversary screening of Cry Baby with commentary by

Jesse Mockrin’s Stunning “Reliquary”

Night Gallery is thrilled to announce Reliquary, an exhibition of new paintings by Jesse Mockrin. This marks the artist’s fourth solo show with the gallery and will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with an essay by Norman Bryson. 

Scroll to Top


Yes! Sign me up for AFYC's weekly newsletter featuring valuable info for artists, nonprofits, upcoming contests, and our new product offerings.

Count Me In!