Peter Max and the on-going dispute over his art, wealth and legacy

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Mary Max and her husband, Peter, in 2018.CreditCreditMike Pont/Getty Images

Peter Max is a German-American artist known for using bright colours in his work. Works by Max are associated with the visual arts and culture of the 1960s, particularly psychedelic art and pop art.Wikipedia

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11 June 2019 | Sharon Otterman | New York Times

On Sunday evening, Mary Max, the wife of the pop artist Peter Max, left a lengthy voice mail message for a friend in London with instructions for what to do after she passed away.

For the past several years, Ms. Max had been embroiled in a vitriolic legal dispute over her husband’s art, wealth and legacy, as he has struggled with increasing dementia.

A stepson and household staff had made accusations that she had been abusive to her husband, and even attempted to kill him, while she countered with accusations that the stepson had “kidnapped” his father.

But in her final voice message to her friend, said her lawyer, John Markham, she did not rehash that dispute. Instead, he said, she left farewell messagesfor people she loved: her husband; her closest friends; her brother, Daniel; and her 94-year-old mother, Ruth.

The police said Ms. Max was found dead of an apparent suicide in her Upper West Side apartment at Riverside Drive and 84th Street at about 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. The exact cause of death is under investigation by the office of the chief medical examiner.

The death of Ms. Max, 52, in the home she shared with Mr. Max, 81, comes in the midst of continued infighting in recent years regarding her husband’s legacy.

In May, The New York Times wrote about how business associates and his son, Adam, had taken control of Mr. Max’s studio, with the intention of increasing production using assistant artists even though Mr. Max himself had not painted seriously in four years, according to nine people with direct knowledge of his condition.

Mr. Max’s psychedelic renderings helped define the hippie aesthetic of the 1960s and 1970s. In recent years, his brightly colored works regularly sold for five figures in auctions, The Times reported.

Mary Max, nee Balkin, was born on Oct. 20, 1966, and raised in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1996, she was walking on a Manhattan sidewalk, when Mr. Max, already an internationally renowned artist and 30 years her senior, walked up and said, “Hi, I’m Peter Max, and I’ve been painting your profile my entire life.”

They married a year later.

Mr. Max had two children from a first marriage, Adam Cosmo and Libra Astro. The children had significant shares in Mr. Max’s studio, which is named ALP after his and their first names. He and Mary Max had no children together.

 

Original Link: Mary Max, Wife of Pop Artist Peter Max, Dies by Apparent Suicide

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