The New York Times picks up on a story from the Art Newspaper about the Gelman collection amassed by Jacques Gelman and his wife, Natasha:
At the time of her death the collection consisted of 95 pieces, including two well-known 1943 works by Kahlo, “Self-Portrait as a Tehuana (Diego on My Mind)” and “Self-Portrait With Monkeys,” and Rivera’s 1941 “Calla Lily Vendor.” The largest number of works are by the couple’s close friend Gunther Gerzso, an abstract painter whose reputation has grown over the last decade.
In 1993 Mrs. Gelman wrote a Mexican will that bequeathed the Mexican collection to Robert R. Littman, an American curator who was a close adviser and friend in the last years of her life. He established the Vergel Foundation to oversee the collection, which traveled to museums around the world.
(The rest of the frustrating story of greed vs. art after the jump.)
Mr. Littman used the fees from those shows to triple the size of the collection, filling gaps that he said Mrs. Gelman had identified and adding pieces by younger contemporary artists. In 2004 he found a temporary home for the collection in a museum set up by the retailer Costco and its Mexican partner in Cuernavaca, where Mrs. Gelman had a house and spent most of her final years.
But two years ago a cousin of Mrs. Gelman who has been fighting for a greater share of her estate brought his legal battle to Mexico City. [ . . . ]
As his appeals wound through the courts, Mr. Littman removed the works from the Cuernavaca museum last spring and hid them. He also canceled a tour of museums in Europe and North America that would have begun this week at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.
“With all this that’s happened, we have to keep it safe,” John Koegel, Mr. Littman’s New York lawyer, said of the collection. “You never know when Judge Santos will pop out another order.” [ . . . ]
According to her will, Mrs. Gelman wanted Mr. Littman to ensure that the collection be shown — in a private museum, because she distrusted the Mexican government — and that it stay together.
“There is no museum or private collection which can match these holdings and it would be impossible to assemble such a collection today,” Mr. Littman wrote by e-mail.
Yet for now it seems that the collection will probably stay hidden from view.
In Mexico, An Ownership Fight Sends an Art Collection into Hiding (New York Times)