Birmingham — A legal dispute over ownership of artwork painted by the late Jack Kevorkian has been quietly settled outside of a federal courtroom in Boston.
The executor of Kevorkian’s estate, attorney Mayer Morganroth, confirmed Thursday that under an agreement approved last month by U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf, the Armenian Library and Museum in Watertown, Mass., will keep four paintings, and 13 paintings will be returned to Kevorkian’s estate for the benefit of his heir, a niece who lives in Troy.
The paintings — many containing disturbing and grotesque images and some reportedly containing Kevorkian’s own blood — have been valued at more than $2 million.
Morganroth filed suit last year in Oakland County Circuit Court seeking the return of the 17 paintings by the assisted-suicide advocate that had been loaned to the museum.
That lawsuit was dismissed after the museum countersued in federal court in Massachusetts, claiming it owned the artwork.
“Of course we are happy it’s resolved,” said Morganroth. “The settlement recognizes the need for his art to be preserved as part of Armenian culture, while returning artwork to his heir.”
Kevorkian, who died in June 2011 at the age of 83, entrusted the paintings to the museum in 1999 before he was sentenced to prison for assisting in a suicide.
Kevorkian served eight years of a 10-to-25 year sentence for second-degree murder of a patient before being paroled in June 2007.
Morganroth said that before his death, Kevorkian said he wanted the artwork returned to Michigan to his niece, Ava Janus.
An auction of Kevorkian’s personal belongings in New York City about a year ago was dampened by the legal battle.
“We had opening bids of $100,000 for some (paintings),” Morganroth said. “But when we told interested persons we couldn’t guarantee delivery because of the pending litigation, the bids dropped off.”
Morganroth said arrangements are still being made for the return of the paintings, which he expects will eventually be offered for sale at art galleries.
Deal reached on $2M in Kevorkian artwork
4 paintings to remain in Mass. museum; 13 to return to his estate
October 5, 2012
The Detroit News