Angelina Jolie’s Divorce Lawyer Embroiled in Dispute Over ‘$100 Million Pollock’

There's some question about the painting's authenticity.

Pierce O'Donnel representing Shelly Sterling on June 11, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Hollywood lawyer Pierce O’Donnell has filed a lawsuit over a mysterious, purportedly $100 million Jackson Pollock painting. According to Courthouse News, O’Donnell has a joint venture agreement with Maitreya Kadre to sell a work by Pollock titled Pink Spring, but she is preventing him from showing the canvas to prospective buyers.

O’Donnell, who filed the case pro se, is suing Kadre and L.A. Packing, Crating, and Shipping for access to the painting. (An attorney at Greenberg Glusker, O’Donnell has reportedly joined Angelina Jolie’s legal team, as the actress prepares to litigate her divorce from actor Brad Pitt.)

The arrangement allegedly began in 2011, when the Trial Law Firm advanced Kadre $75,000 to buy Pink Spring from the estate of someone named Gregory Comstock, who died in 2006. The firm subsequently spent $200,000 marketing the painting in order to sell it, paying art historians and other experts to authenticate and appraise the work.

O’Donnell has filed his claim as the firm’s successor-in-interest. He claims that he was paying L.A. Packing $450 a month for storage until March 2015, when Kadre arranged to have the payments stopped. Since then, both Kadre and the storage company have allegedly refused to tell him where the painting is and who is paying for its storage.

According to the complaint, O’Donnell was granted access to the painting through an arbitration process, but that decision has not been honored.

“Kadre has done nothing but hinder, obstruct, sabotage, and otherwise prevent the marketing and sale of the painting,” the complaint claims, according to Courthouse News. “She has acted in utter bad faith at every step of the way. Her obstructionist antics have prevented the proper marketing of the painting and doomed any sales. If allowed to persist in this destructive manner, the value of the painting will be destroyed.”

“These unlawful, obstreperous acts squandered the opportunity for at least one recent sale to a multi-billionaire art investor who was very interested in purchasing the painting but unable to view the painting,” the lawsuit adds.

There are few details about the background of the case, but legal resource site Fear Not Law has published records of a 2008 appeals court case between Kadre and Comstock’s first cousin and heir, Thomas A. White. That case hinged on whether Comstock, who died intestate, had actually left a holographic will leaving Kadre the painting.

The court found in White’s favor, stating that the supposed holographic will merely granted Kadre power of attorney to help Comstock authenticate and sell the canvas. Intriguingly, the ruling notes that “there is apparently disagreement as to whether this painting was actually painted by Jackson Pollock.”

Pink Spring wouldn’t be the first Pollock to have it’s authenticity questioned. The film Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? revolved around a supposed masterpiece by the Ab-Ex great purchased by a truck driver for just $5. More recently, the high-profile Knoedler forgery trial involved a fake Pollock that misspelled his signature.

According to the complaint, Pink Spring “is one of Pollock’s largest drip paintings.” O’Donnell recounts the artist’s success at the market, noting that “there has never been more propitious time to be selling large drip Pollock that experts have proclaimed to be one of his best drip paintings.”

O’Donnell also accuses Kadre of taking $10,000 meant for photographing the painting, and, abusing Plaintiff’money, [Kadre] prepared ridiculous ‘coffee table book’ featuring her posing with the painting and looking life buffoon” in “provocative clothing.” The complaint notes that Kadre “fashions herself as some exotic beauty.”

In addition to seeking access to the painting, O’Donnell is requesting punitive damages for fraud and breach of contract, faith, and fiduciary duty. artnet News reached out to LA Packing, which refused to comment, and insisted the matter had been resolved.

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