Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Article on Preserving the Artistic Afterlife: The Challenges in Fulfilling Testator Wishes in Art-Rich, Cash-Poor Estates

Hannah K. Feldman recently published an article entitled, Preserving the Artistic Afterlife: The Challenges in Fulfilling Testator Wishes in Art-Rich, Cash-Poor Estates, Fordham Intellectual Property, Media, & Entertainment Law Journal (2020). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

Artists' estates present unique legal issues distinct from the estates of art collectors-cum-investors, as these estates tend to be much more art-rich and cash-poor,leading to difficulties in funding legacies when there is no cash readily available and all of the value of the estate is tied up in the artworks themselves. Robert Indiana, an American sculptor who was frequently exploited throughouthis lfe and now appearsto be subject to posthumous exploitation, will be examined as a textbook example of such an artist'sestate. The issues surrounding Indiana's estate exemplify the challenges in following a testator's intent to leave a lasting artistic reputation when the artist has not also left behind the cash necessary to fund their dreams. This Note looks at the judicial doctrines of cy pres and equitable deviation and various legal scholars' proposed solutions to modifying such impracticable dreams, particularly in the case of artists 'and art collectors' estates. Specifically, the Note argues that Indiana's collection should not be housed in his ramshackle man- sion on a rural island in Maine, but rather should be bequeathed to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Substantively, this Note concludes that public benefit should prevail over dead hand control in the case of artists'estates.


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