Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Estate of Evelyn A.J. Hall


Walter Annenberg, the publishing giant who among other things created the magazines TV Guide and Seventeen, died in 2002.  His sister, Evelyn A.J. Hall, died in 2005 survived by her three sons, John Friede, Robert Friede, and Thomas Jaffe.

A battle developed among the sons which reached a settlement in 2007 under which John and his wife (Marcia) agreed to pay Robert and Thomas $30 million, part of which was secured by John & Marcia's art collection of rare masks and ritual headdresses from Papua, New Guinea.  However, shortly before the settlement, John and Marcia donated their collection (the so-called "Jolika Collection" named by using the first two letters of each of their children's names, John, Lisa, and Karen) to the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.

A Florida probate judge has recently ruled that John & Marcia breached the settlement agreement by making the donation.  Thus, they have been ordered to turn over the collection (the collateral) to Robert and Thomas.

A San Francisco judge has just issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the artwork from being removed from the museum and from John & Marcia's home (some of the donated artwork has not yet been physically moved to the museum).  The hearing is scheduled for October 6, 2008.

The key issue is the true ownership of the artwork.  Was the artwork legally transferred to the museum before the settlement so the security arrangement did not actually burden the artwork?

See John Cote, Inheritance fight imperils de Young tribal art, SFGate.com, Sept. 20, 2008.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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