Bitter Family Battle Erupts Over Melva Bucksbaum’s $200 Million Estate

Tensions are running high.

Raymond Learsy and Melva Bucksbaum in 2014. Photo: Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan.com ==

The death of beloved art collector, patron, and Whitney Museum board member Melva Bucksbaum, who passed away last year at age 82, marked the beginning of a family battle over her considerable assets. At stake is a $30 million home and an impressive art collection featuring the likes of Henri Matisse, Peter Paul Rubens, Andy Warhol, and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Page Six reports that Bucksbaum’s children, Gene and Glenn Bucksbaum and estate trustee Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan are embroiled in a hotly-contested row with Raymond Learsy, Bucksbaum’s husband of 15 years and a fellow Whitney Museum board member.

Learsy reportedly filed notice in an Aspen court with the intention of challenging Bucksbaum’s will, claiming he is entitled to half of her fortune—estimated to be as much as $200 million. He currently stands to inherit $10 million as well as Bucksbaum’s $30 million Connecticut estate.

“This is a clear case of greed by a colossal cad,” Scanlan told Page Six. “My sole purpose is to carry out my mother’s wishes to protect her family.”

Bucksbaum and Learsy met in 2000 (the same year that the well-regarded, biannual Bucksbaum Award began. They were married a year later. According to the New York Times, Bucksbaum had been widowed twice before.

Despite Scanlan’s sentiments, Learsy has some who will defend his character. “They support artists, even new ones. They buy according to their hearts, and they have good ones,” artist Pat Steir said of the couple.

Neither Bucksbaum’s lawyer, William D. Zabel, nor Learsy’s lawyer, Hugh J. Freund, was available for immediate comment.


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