Lawyer Accused of Taking Funds From Cy Twombly Foundation

Ralph E. Lerner, a prominent art lawyer in New York, who has represented the Sonnabend estate, Gagosian Gallery, and important collectors like Steven A. Cohen, was accused on Wednesday of fraudulently taking at least $750,000 in fees from the Cy Twombly Foundation, report Randy Kennedy and Carol Vogel of the New York Times. In an ongoing court case filed in Delaware, new papers claim that Lerner, as the secretary and a director of the board of the foundation, charged the foundation unauthorized fees for legal services. He then allegedly hid those charges from other members of the board by having the bills mailed to a post office box in New York and a corporate address in Delaware, then arranged wire transfers to fool the foundation’s accountants. The new papers say that Lerner “even charged legal fees for merely attending board meetings as a director,” adding that “no other board member received (or was entitled to receive) compensation (much less at the significant rate of $950 an hour) for attending board meetings or reviewing and editing the board meeting minutes.” Lerner’s law office said in a statement that all fees for his legal services “were made in accordance with the practices and procedures established by Mr. Twombly when he was alive.”