Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ramírez Lawsuit

The Los Angeles Times's Mike Boehm reports on a fascinating dispute involving the work of artist Martín Ramírez:

"A bicoastal legal battle has erupted over who owns 17 drawings by Martín Ramírez, whose artworks, created while he lived in California state mental institutions until his death in 1963, now fetch six-figure sums. Is Maureen Hammond, a widowed, retired schoolteacher living in Needles, Calif., a multimillion-dollar art thief who tried to dispose of ill-gotten gains through a Sotheby's auction? Or was Hammond, 69, the appreciative and legitimate recipient of a gift of Ramírez's drawings from a psychologist who befriended the artist and was the first person to arrange for their display during the 1950s?"

More here from the New York Sun, which adds that Sotheby's is holding onto the drawings until the litigation is resolved.

Here is Roberta Smith's review of Ramírez's 2007 exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum ("simply one of the greatest artists of the 20th century"). Here is Peter Schjeldahl on the same show.