Merton Simpson Leaves a Mess Behind

Merton Simpson, the “Abstract Expressionist painter and arguably the most significant dealer of traditional African art in the United States,” according to the New York Times, died last week and left a bit of a mess behind:

Last week Merton Simpson Jr., the artist’s son, sent an e-mail to his father’s friends asking for contributions for a funeral, including wiring instructions for a PayPal account.

“While my father had considerable assets, they are illiquid, and the family needs immediate financial assistance for a proper funeral,” Mr. Simpson wrote. “He deserves no less.”

The appeal grew partly out of a long-running and rancorous dispute over Mr. Simpson’s care and his prodigious art collection. With Mr. Simpson’s death, the finger-pointing and recriminations have reached a head, with accusations of mismanagement and exploitation.

Things got really ugly “while this man was still alive, and I knew that when he passed, it was going to get really ugly,” said Luna Devin Crystal, a longtime friend of Mr. Simpson’s, who at one point helped run the gallery.

 Art Worth Millions, Yet No Cash for Burial (New York Times)