Thursday, April 23, 2009

Family Feuds, SF Style

Debt and family disputes continue to whittle away at a tribal art collection, assembled by John and Marcia Friede, that the de Young Museum in San Francisco once expected to own in its entirety. The Friedes promised their 4,000-piece collection to the de Young in a series of agreements completed in 2007. But a battle over the estate of Mr. Friede’s mother, Evelyn A.J. Hall, and a roughly $25 million debt owed by the Friedes to Sotheby’s, have threatened to break up the collection, considered one of the best in the world.

Starting next month, Sotheby’s plans to auction 10 works from the collection in order to pay down the Friedes’ debt; in October, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that Sotheby’s could take possession of 54 works. Seven will go on the block in New York on May 15, including a half-figure of the god Iraw√°ke, from Papua New Guinea, with an estimated price of more than $1 million, and a drum from the Torres Straits Islands, estimated at $300,000 to $500,000. Three other works will be auctioned in Paris on June 17.

Meanwhile, Mr. Friede’s brother and half-brother, Robert Friede and Thomas Jaffe, are pressuring him to pay approximately $10 million he owes them from the settlement of their mother’s estate, and against which he offered the collection as collateral. The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that the City of San Francisco, which has taken legal action on behalf of the de Young against the three brothers, will allow 76 works to be sold to pay off the debt to Mr. Jaffe and Robert Friede. The city estimates that the 76 works will bring in $3.5 million.


Zoomie said...

Poor little rich kids.

namastenancy said...

Yes, their greed is helping to destroy a priceless gift which could have been, should have been enjoyed by the people of SF. Instead we have greed and greedier, wanting more and more money - but so many museums are having to deal with this these days. Some museums are being sold off by their "trustees," i.e., the Brandeis Rose Museum. Other museums are selling treasures to stay afloat or buy newer works of art which may (or may not) be as valuable as what is being sold. One of the good things about the Internet is that this kind of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing is now much more visible. Of course, I don't know if things will change; they probably won't but it's always good to know the politics behind the polite smiles.

Rick said...

Too bad that the death of loved ones brings nothing but heart ache and greed out.