Taubman Family Feud Exposed

Will family members behave at the November 4th auction?

Businessman Alfred Taubman is 2011.
Photo: Nathan Skid / Crain's Detroit Business
A. Alfred Taubman and wife Judy Taubman. Photo: Dustin Wayne Harris/Patrick McMullan.

A. Alfred Taubman and wife Judy Taubman.
Photo: Dustin Wayne Harris/Patrick McMullan.

Just two days ahead of a historic sale of the art collection of the late A. Alfred Taubman at Sotheby’s New York, tensions are flaring between his widow Judy Taubman and the billionaire’s surviving children from a previous marriage, according to the New York Post. The basis for the story is an upcoming feature in the December issue of Vanity Fair.

This isn’t the first that the art world is hearing about the family feuding over valuable artworks. In September, Judy Taubman arrived in London from New York, only to find herself locked out of a Mayfair flat—stranded on the sidewalk with her many suitcases—reportedly over two unidentified canvases worth $300,000 each.

The former chairman of Sotheby’s, who served time in federal prison over his role in a price-fixing scandal with Christie’s, was known for his extensive, and impressive, art collection, which Sotheby’s valued at $500 million—the highest value ever for a single owner collection. It was also given a hefty guarantee, so the family is set to come out on top, no matter what happens at the sale on Wednesday, November 4.

Judy Taubman. Photo Jenny Goddall, via Daily Mail.

Judy Taubman.
Photo Jenny Goddall, via Daily Mail.

An anonymous source reportedly told Vanity Fair: “She hates them and they hate her. Now the kids have a chance to get their revenge.”

Judy alleges that Taubman’s children, Gayle, 64, Robert, 61, and William 56, locked her out of the $8 million London apartment to ensure that Sotheby’s could take the two paintings. She then called the British tabloids to take photos of her situation, telling Vanity Fair‘s James Reginato: “I arrived from NY and found out that the children sent goons to stop me from entering my flat for stupid technicalities of the time of pickup…I did something I am not proud of, but it was my only way to fight back the cruelty that was dealt to me,” she said.

The sniping also included details about arranging the sale of the collection, with a source telling VF that Taubman’s children “were absolutely ruthless playing Christie’s against Sotheby’s. They are are so greed that they were willing to do business with the people responsible for sending their father to jail.”

Taubman was the only person who served time in jail for the price-fixing conspiracy. Sotheby’s former CEO Diana “DeDe” Brooks testified against him and received a house arrest sentence as well as mandatory community service. Christie’s cooperated with the investigation and secured immunity for most of its officials, while one executive, Sir Anthony Tennant, refused to come to the US to stand trial and could not be extradited.

According to the Post, “It remains to be seen what the atmosphere will be like at the auction, where Judy is expected.”

Highlights of the collection include Picasso, Modigliani, and de Kooning paintings each estimated at $25 million to $35 million, and two Mark Rothko paintings, estimated at $20 million to $30 million each.

Judy is reportedly inheriting as much as $400 million, in addition to $10 million annually for expenses and properties in Manhattan, Southampton, London, Palm Beach, and Gstaad. However, money from the auction will go to the A. Alfred Taubman Foundation.

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