Copyright holder settles lawsuit with LOVE artist's estate

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FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, newlyweds Jennifer and Paul Raffa pose for a photograph under the Robert Indiana "LOVE" sculpture at John F. Kennedy Plaza in Philadelphia on Valentine's Day. Indiana's estate has reached a settlement that keeps intact a longstanding relationship with the copyright holder of the iconic "LOVE" series. Officials said Friday, June 11, 2021, that New York-based Morgan Art Foundation will work with the Maine-based Star of Hope Foundation, which aims to transform Indiana's island home in Maine into a museum. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PORTLAND, Maine – The estate of pop artist Robert Indiana has reached a settlement that keeps intact a longstanding relationship with Morgan Art Foundation, which holds the copyright for his iconic 1960s “LOVE” series, to promote and preserve his work, officials said Friday.

New York-based Morgan Art Foundation intends to work with the Maine-based Star of Hope Foundation, which aims to transform Indiana’s island home into a museum to celebrate his work.

While the museum takes shape, the two foundations will work to display Indiana's artwork at venues around the country.

“We’ve done a lot of good stuff, but it’s overshadowed by the litigation,” said Larry Sterrs, chair of the Star of Hope Foundation. Completion of the museum is likely years away, he said.

Indiana’s estate, which is valued at upward of $80 million, had been entangled in a lawsuit brought by Morgan Art Foundation. The lawsuit was filed the day before Indiana’s death on May 19, 2018, at age 89 on Vinalhaven Island, 15 miles (25 kilometers) off Rockland, Maine.

It accused the reclusive artist's caretaker and an art publisher of taking advantage of Indiana and producing forgeries — accusations the pair denied. That led to more claims and counter claims.

Under the agreement, Morgan dropped its lawsuit against the estate and Indiana’s caretaker but not against the art publisher.

It also doesn’t resolve a case brought by Maine’s attorney general, who claims the estate paid excessive legal fees during litigation. That lawsuit contends $3.7 million paid to four law firms and about $400,000 collected by the estate’s personal representative were excessive.