Artist Peter Max Embroiled In Ugly Court Battle Between Wife and Son

What's really going on?

Peter Max. Photo: Patrick McMullan.

Strange times for Peter Max came to a head on October 7 when the Pop artist appeared in civil court over a dispute between his son and his wife, Mary Max, who claimed her stepson Adam Max had been holding the elder Max against his will at an “unknown location within New York City,” according to court papers obtained by the New York Post.

The judge ruled for Max, who allegedly suffers from mild dementia, to be freed from the watch of his son and court-appointed guardian, Diane Krausz, and to return to the Riverside Drive apartment he shares with his wife.

Max’s wife Mary alleged in court documents that he was being kept in “illegal, unwanted and forced isolation from his wife and longtime friends.”

“Peter has called me several times asking me why I have not called him recently,” Mary Max testified. “He is usually whispering and I believe often calling me from inside the bathroom. He has stated that he is confused and does not understand what is going on.”

Adam, however, argued in court that his father was not safe living with his younger spouse, who is almost 30 years younger than her husband. “His life is in danger. That’s all I care about,” said Krausz, who was in turn told by Judge t Carol Edmead that she’s overstepped her bounds by removing Max from his home and placing him in the care of his son.

Mary Max, Peter Max. Photo: Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan.

Mary Max, Peter Max.
Photo: Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan.

When the judge ordered Max to return home to his wife, Mary reportedly burst into tears, having previously stated that she misses “giving him showers, dressing him and playing memory games.” New York Daily News reports that the couple “shared a tender kiss outside their Upper West Side building.”

But there may still be trouble in paradise, as a Page Six item alleges that Mary is broke and has threatened to divorce her husband if he doesn’t give her more money. A letter sent from Mary’s attorney to Peter on June 25, 2014 reads: “You and Mary have a postnuptial agreement…which contains clearly defined obligations on your part…Mary is increasingly feeling that she has no alternative but to file for divorce.”

While Mary did file divorce papers in 2014, citing an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” the couple is still wed.

The average price for Max’s works is around $8,000-12,000, and this year marked a record for his painting, Monk on Red (1987) which sold for $53,125 via Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, New Jersey, according to the artnet Price Database.

“I do new things every day,” he told Cleveland Jewish News, in advance of a show at a local community center. “I just keep on working all the time. I’m always inspired. My life is my work, my work is my life, I love it, I enjoy it.”

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics