They say the house always wins, but the outcome is still unknown in the case of an estate battle over the sale of a masterpiece by Renoir, between an art dealer’s sons and the estate of their father’s widow.
Known for its world-class art collection, the Bellagio casino is waiting for payment from the sale of a painting by Renoir. However, the transaction is tangled in an estate battle. Two brothers, whose father owned the painting, are alleging that their father’s widow had no right to sell the painting and, therefore, the $1.085 million belongs to them.
Trust Advisor’s recent article, “Pierre-Auguste Renoir Masterpiece At Center Of Bitter Estate Feud,” explains that the painting, “La Balayeuse,” was put up for sale last May by MGM Grand, the company that owns the Bellagio. The painting is described in an auction catalogue as a “hushed, intimate scene of a pretty country girl absorbed in her sweeping.” But MGM and the Bellagio are unable to collect, because the 1889 Renoir work is at the center of a legal fight.
The painting belonged to the legendary art dealer Sam Salz, his sons Marc and Andre Salz claim in court papers. The brothers say that their father’s widow, Janet Salz, wrongly sold “La Balayeuse” in a Sotheby’s auction in 1999. Steve Wynn, the casino mogul responsible for the creation of the Bellagio, the Wynn, and other grand hotels along the Las Vegas Strip, purchased “La Balayeuse” from Janet Salz and placed it in the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. The next year, MGM Grand bought the Bellagio and its art works from Wynn.
When the Salz brothers heard of last year’s sale of the painting, they claimed that it really belonged to their father’s estate and that the $1.085 million that Christie’s received from the sale is theirs. The battle over the painting is just the most recent in a long-running fight between the Salz sons and the estate of Janet Salz, who died in 2015.
“Janet perpetrated a decades-long scheme to fraudulently conceal certain paintings from [Marc] and his brother, Andre Salz, to their detriment,” the brothers charge in court papers.
Christie’s has put the money in escrow until the issue is resolved.
MGM Grand said in a statement that the Salz brothers’ claims are “baseless and without merit.” Similarly, an attorney for Janet’s estate called the claims “meritless.” The brothers settled with Janet in the 1980s over similar claims and cannot be allowed to undo it, the lawyer argued.
The brothers entered into a settlement releasing any and all claims they may have had against Janet in all of her capacities for all time. However, the sale of the painting has brought up new issues and the sons are not giving up without a fight.
Reference: Trust Advisor (April 10, 2017) “Pierre-Auguste Renoir Masterpiece At Center Of Bitter Estate Feud”
Holden & Campbell – Annapolis Estate Planning Attorneys