A Robert Indiana Love sculpture in Taipei. Photo: Wikipedia.

Suit over Robert Indiana Legacy Nears Settlement

Following two and a half years of litigation and $8 million in legal costs, the estate of Robert Indiana is approaching a settlement with the artist’s longtime representative.

A towering figure in the world of Pop art best known for his iconic and much-copied LOVE sculpture, Indiana died in May 2018. Since then, James Brannon, the executor of his estate, has been embroiled in a legal battle with the Morgan Art Foundation (MAF), which for decades fabricated and sold the artist’s works.

Brannon, who with Indiana and Indiana’s caretaker Jamie Thomas established the artist-endowed Star of Hope Foundation, sued MAF for breach of contract, alleging that MAF had failed to pay royalties owed. Though Star of Hope was not a party to the suit, in September, it made a deal to work with MAF to resolve the suit; at the time, the effort was expected to ice out Brannon, who sold off a number of Indiana works to finance his legal efforts.

Last month, The Art Newspaper reports, the Star of Hope Foundation, under the auspices of chairman Larry Sterrs, filed with Maine’s probate court to be allowed to supervise Indiana’s art. The request was granted, with the result that Brannon could not sell further works by the artist without approval.

On November 5, Brannan’s lawyer filed a letter stating that MAF and Brannon had agreed to settle and requested sixty days for the two parties to address the details of the settlement. As a result, court proceedings are on hold until January 6, 2021.

It is believed that the arrangements between MAF and the estate will additionally clear the way for Indiana’s home on the remote island of Vinalhaven, off the Maine coast, to become a museum of his work, as per the artist’s will.

Still pending is litigation between Mike McKenzie, founder of New York publisher American Image Art, and MAF over the right to reproduce Indiana’s works. The suit will next be addressed on January 6 of the coming year.