Collector Sues Photographer Peter Beard Claiming She’s Owed $200,000 for Stolen Journal

A de-gifted diary is the cause of the claim.

Peter Beard, Nejma Beard. ©Patrick McMullan. Photo: Patrick McMullan/

Acccording to a Page Six report, a woman who claims she is a friend of photographer Peter Beard is suing him and his wife, Nejma, claiming they stole back a diary Beard had gifted to her more than three decades ago.

The woman, Judith Young-Mallin (who appears to be erroneously referred to in the New York Post story as Judith Malin Young), is a Surrealist art collector and author. She is seeking $200,000. She claims Beard gave her the diary, which contains photos and other ephemera, as a gift in exchange for letting him store some of his possessions in her apartment while he was going through a divorce in 1986.

Artist Index: Peter Beard

In 2015, Young reportedly decided to donate the work to a museum. But, this past December, according to her claim, when she brought the diary to Nejma for authentication, as required by the museum, Nejma allegedly used the opportunity to take back and keep the work.

Orphan Cheetah Triptych by Peter Beard

Peter Beard, Orphan Cheetah Triptych (1968).

While it’s not clear whether the diary is in fact worth $200,000, Beard does have an extensive track record at auction as far as his distinctive safari-and African wildlife-themed photos are concerned. The artnet Price Database lists over 860 results. The record for a Beard work at auction is $662,500, set in 2012 at a Christies photograph sale, for Orphan Cheetah Triptych (1968/printed in 2003).

The Daily News profiled Young-Mallin in a 2014 interview about her book and her art-filled Greenwich Village apartment, which at the time was for sale for $3.8 million. The report called her apartment a “surrealist wonderland” because of her design aesthetic and the abundance of surrealist artwork, noting that some of the art was destined for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it would be donated following the sale.


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