Artist Files Lawsuit Against Ex-Lover, Demanding Return of $250,000 in Art
The works are reportedly worth as much as $21,500 apiece.
A messy split between artist Joseph Kinnebrew—a self-described “certified creative genius”—and a Chicago socialite named Bonnie Deutsch, has landed in court, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.
On August 22, Kinnebrew filed suit in US Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Deutsch, claiming she has refused to return nearly $250,000 worth of his art after she broke up with him in an email in August 2013. It was sent by Deutsch’s son Christopher, to whom she turned over power of attorney. The suit contains a copy of the email, which reads: “The past few years have been emotionally and financially devastating for me. . .It has become painfully clear that we are not meant to be together.” It also contains a warning from Christopher not to “call, text, email, fax, Facebook, instant message or try to reach her via any other means.”
As for the art, an attached exhibit details all the paintings and their estimated individual values, including dozens of painting and sculpture reportedly worth as much as $21,500 apiece.
Meanwhile, Kinnebrew says he is broke and living in Washington state. According to the complaint, Deutsch convinced him to move to Wisconsin from Washington and promised to help promote and sell his art. The claim says she evicted him after the two split.
According to his website, Kinnebrew is “One Man [with] Many Visions,” and is “a sculptor, painter, lecturer, inventor and author. He has been described by several in the art world as an eccentric creative genius.”
Deutsch has been involved in fundraising for Chicago institutions including the Field Museum and the Joffrey Ballet. There are numerous pictures of the couple together on New York Social Diary at various parties and dinners. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that hikers in the area around the couple’s vacation home on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin were invited “to stroll around the lower lawn to view the sculptures” by the artist.
Kinnebrew says Deutsch is keeping the work at this vacation house.
In a 2015 post on LinkedIn, Kinnebrew compared the alleged theft of his art to Nazi looting.
When the Chicago Tribune reached Deutsch for comment about the missing artwork, she said Kinnebrew is “more than welcome to come and take it all. I would love for him to pick it all up, but I’ve paid enough and I am not paying to move it for him.”
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