Kevorkian estate plans to sell disputed paintings

Posted Oct. 27, 2011, at 7:40 p.m.

BOSTON — Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s estate is going ahead with plans to auction 17 of his paintings, including one he did with a pint of his blood, even though a suburban Boston museum is refusing to give them up.

Estate attorney Mayer Morganroth said the dispute with the Armenian Library and Museum of America has only increased interest in the assisted-suicide advocate’s artwork.

“This is just ridiculous and preposterous,” Morganroth said. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re stolen.”

The museum in Watertown, Mass., says the paintings were donated by Kevorkian, who was of Armenian descent.

The museum’s attorney, Harold W. Potter Jr., said it believes in good faith that it owns the paintings and they’ll stay put till the dispute is resolved. The museum and Kevorkian’s estate both have filed lawsuits.

Kevorkian died in June in suburban Detroit at age 83, leaving his property to his niece and sole heir, Ava Janus of Troy, Mich. The estate has estimated that the total value of the paintings being held by the museum is $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

The paintings and other Kevorkian possessions are scheduled to be auctioned Friday at the New York Institute of Technology. Images of the paintings will be displayed instead of the actual works, which are still at the museum.

Many of the paintings depict death or dying. One scheduled for auction is titled “Genocide” and features a bloody head being dangled by the hair and held by the hands of two soldiers, one wearing a German military uniform from World War II and the other wearing a Turkish uniform from World War I. Kevorkian painted the head using his blood.

Kevorkian, who sparked the national right-to-die debate with a homemade suicide machine that helped end the lives of dozens of ailing people, was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 for assisting in the 1998 death of a Michigan man with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was released from prison in 2007.

Kevorkian lent the paintings and other personal effects to the museum in 1999 because he believed they would be protected while he served his prison term, Morganroth said. Some had been stolen in the past.

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