Lindsay Pollock fills in the details in the year-old pair of lawsuits between Joan Branach and Robert Motherwell’s Dedalus foundation that have been tied up in court without coming to trial since March. Branach claims she was promised lifetime employment by the artist and the foundation says she’s been selling Motherwell works that were not hers to sell:
Dedalus filed suit against Banach on 25 March in US district court, accusing her of selling “misappropriated” Motherwell works at auction and through New York gallery Knoedler and Company. The suit alleges that she “secretly” consigned 1958 Motherwell drawings to Christie’s that she had never disclosed to the board as owning, as is the foundation’s policy. The suit accuses Banach of having “misappropriated at least ten Motherwell works”, and selling $93,200 worth of work, without having reported these transactions to the board. Banach’s actions were “deceptive, self-interested and fraudulent”, according to the suit. Banach denies the allegations and says the works were gifts from the artist. The foundation claims $5m in damages, and asks Banach to return all Motherwell works and proceeds of sales, and reimburse the foundation for $324,874.57, the equivalent of two and a half years of salary and benefits.
The foundation’s assets tallied $59m in 2007, including $20m in Motherwell art, according to tax filings. Dedalus spends more than $2m a year on collection care and organising the artist’s archive for future public research. Flam earned $229,336 in 2007, and executive director Morgan Spangle made $239,588, according to tax records. Other board members include Richard Rubin, author and critic Dore Ashton, former Museum of Modern Art curator John Elderfield and Columbia University art history professor David Rosand.
Motherwell Foundation Fights Former Employee Over Wrongful Dismal Claim (The Art Newspaper)