Patricia Cohen has another excellent story in the New York Times about three trustees of Robert Rauschenberg’s estate who believe they are owed $60m in fees for their work. The three men have already paid themselves $5.7m in fees out of the $60m outstanding as well as having been paid $3.9m in salary or consulting fees for other work connected to the recently deceased artist. One of the men even got a $3.6m house in Rauschenberg’s will.
All of those numbers, however, pale in comparison to the estate Rauschenberg left behind. Cy Twombly’s estate was an eye-popping $1bn but the artist had been married to an extremely wealthy woman. Only his executors know how much of that value came from the artist’s work. But the Times puts the Rauschenberg estate at a conservative $600m with room for much greater valuations:
Estimating the value of works by even well-established artists like Twombly or Rauschenberg is notoriously difficult given how fickle the art market can be. In the 2009 federal tax return prepared by Mr. Grutman’s firm, the value of Rauschenberg’s estate was listed as nearly $606 million. When the trust finally turned over the majority of the assets to the foundation three years later, in May 2012, it listed the estate’s value as more than $2.3 billion.
Foundation Fights Fees for Artist’s Trustees (NY Times)