Throughout art history, disputes have arisen over the works of artists after they have died: who owns what works, who inherits, who owns copyright and related merchandising rights, and whether artists’ wishes must be respected when they ask for their works to be kept together as a collection.

These pieces examine some celebrated wrangles that have arisen over the decades: the Rothko Estate (1976); the legacy of Charles Tunnicliffe, the ornithological artist (1984); the Warhol Foundation (1994); the Dali Estate (2001); and Francis Bacon’s legacy (2002).

Consistent themes and issues emerge for artists who care what will happen to their works after death.  For example, making a will and taking independent expert advice before doing so; choosing executors – especially ones who have nothing to gain from the Estate; ensuring that unsold works and personal archive material are carefully catalogued well before death; and taking particular care to decide on the possible merchandising of their images during the 70 years of their copyright remaining after their death.

The Rothko Wrangle

ONE A tale of an ill-drawn Will and 798 paintings told in two parts. ‘Silence is so accurate’. Mark Rothko once stated in a conversation with Elaine de Kooning. A bitter irony indeed when we consider… Continue Reading The Rothko Wrangle

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Art after Death

For practitioners, what happens to their art after their death can be a significant issue. This section looks at some of the steps artists can take to plan for and protect the future of their artworks… Continue Reading Art after Death

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Famous last words

Andy Warhol died in 1987. In the few years since his death his Estate has been beset by no fewer than three serious and complex legal wrangles. In Britain the death of Henry Moore in 1986 has also bee… Continue Reading Famous last words

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