As part of a complex and long-running legal dispute, lawyers for the Robert Indiana estate agreed to pay out more than $2 million to the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which had claimed that paying legal representatives for the estate were themselves too much money. The Maine Attorney General began investigating those payments in 2020, and said on Monday that lawyers for the estate had received more than $10 million since the artist’s death in 2018.
For more than three years, the Indiana estate has been embroiled in competing claims of elder abuse, financial mismanagement, fraud, and more. Indiana, who lived on the island of Vinalhaven, off the coast of Maine, is commonly associated with the Pop art movement and is best known for his “LOVE” series, which manifested in numerous prints and sculptures around the world.
In 2021, the Morgan Art Foundation, which represented Indiana during his lifetime and owns the copyright to most of his works; James W. Brannan, the executor of Indiana’s estate; and Jamie Thomas, Indiana’s caretaker, settled a number of legal claims for an undisclosed sum. Certain claims against Michael McKenzie, a publisher who is accused of having underpaid Indiana and faked some of his works, are still gestating.
The Maine Attorney General had accused Brannan of paying himself and other lawyers for the estate excessive—an allegation that Brannan denied to the Portland Press Herald this week. The state had initially been seeking $3.7 million.
Aaron Frey, the Maine Attorney General, said in a statement, “Every dollar going unnecessarily to pay lawyers and the Personal Representative was another dollar unavailable to the charity to fulfill its mission and Robert Indiana’s vision.”