Twombly Foundation Sues Directors

The Cy Twombly Foundation filed a lawsuit against four people this past Wednesday, report Randy Kennedy and Carol Vogel of the New York Times. The lawsuit states that foundation directors Thomas H. Saliba, a financial adviser based in New England, and Ralph E. Lerner, an art-world lawyer, took more than $300,000 in commission fees by inflating the appraisal value of Twombly’s estate in 2012 to $1 billion. “Lerner and Saliba have refused to provide a copy of the trust or disclose their trustee commissions, which makes it impossible to confirm the extent of their wrongdoing.” says the lawsuit, which was filed by Nicola Del Roscio, Twombly’s companion, and Julie Sylvester, the foundation’s vice president, in Delaware state court. An appraiser, hired by Lerner, the suit details, valued some unfinished paintings at $5 million each and some unfinished drawings at $300,000—including a fake that was determined by the artist himself to be not of his own hand—by using a printed archive without ever physically inspecting the works. According to the plaintiffs, these overstatements could create confusion over their true value, destabilizing the market for the artist’s work.