Preserving the Artistic Afterlife: The Challenges in Fulfilling Testator Wishes in Art-Rich, Cash-Poor EstatesHanna K. FeldmanNote - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
26241
portfolio_page-template-default,single,single-portfolio_page,postid-26241,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-3.3,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.2.0,vc_responsive

Preserving the Artistic Afterlife: The Challenges in Fulfilling Testator Wishes in Art-Rich, Cash-Poor Estates
Hanna K. Feldman
Note

  The full text of this Note may be found here.

30 Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. L.J. 223 (2019).

Note by Hanna K. Feldman*

 

ABSTRACT

[A]

rtists’ estates present unique legal issues distinct from the estates of art collectors-cum-investors, as these estates tend to be much more art-rich and cash-poor, leading to difficulties in funding legacies when there is no cash readily available and all of the value of the estate is tied up in the artworks themselves. Robert Indiana, an American sculptor who was frequently exploited throughout his life and now appears to be subject to posthumous exploitation, will be examined as a textbook example of such an artist’s estate. The issues surrounding Indiana’s estate exemplify the challenges in following a testator’s intent to leave a lasting artistic reputation when the artist has not also left behind the cash necessary to fund their dreams. This Note looks at the judicial doctrines of cy pres and equitable deviation and various legal scholars’ proposed solutions to modifying such impracticable dreams, particularly in the case of artists’ and art collectors’ estates. Specifically, the Note argues that Indiana’s collection should not be housed in his ramshackle mansion on a rural island in Maine, but rather should be bequeathed to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Substantively, this Note concludes that public benefit should prevail over dead hand control in the case of artists’ estates.


* Editor-in-Chief, Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, Volume XXX; J.D. Candidate, Fordham University School of Law, 2020; B.A., Political Science, Grinnell College, 2014. I would like to thank Professor Leila Amineddoleh for her helpful comments and guidance, as well as the staff and editors of the IPLJ, particularly Sean Corrado and Elliot Fink for their patience and superb edits. A special thanks to my parents Carla and Mark, my brother Brian, my parents’ pug Nacious, and my friends who provided their unflagging love and support throughout this process.