Legal records relating to the Estate of Mark Rothko, 1957-1986

Harrow, Gustave
Active in New York, N.Y.

Collection size: 34.2 linear feet

Collection Summary: The collection consists of roughly one third of the legal records assembled by Assistant New York State Attorney General, Gustave Harrow, during the lengthy legal battle, "In the Matter of the Estate of Mark Rothko." Included are trial transcripts, briefs, motions and depositions, auction and sale information, correspondence, and slides.

Biographical/Historical Note: Gustave Harrow, a lawyer and Assistant New York State Attorney General, taught legal ethics and art law at New York University, where he also served as adjunct professor in the Arts Administration program in the School of Education. Mark Rothko was an Abstract Expressisonist painter who committed suicide in 1970. Rothko's heirs, represented by Harrow, accused the executors not only of mismanaging the estate but also of conspiring with the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan to defraud it. The case, presided over by Judge Millard Midonick, New York State Surrogate Court in 1975, and followed by appeals to the State Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, New York State, resulted in a $9.2 million judgement against the gallery and the three executors. In 1979, Harrow published a book on the trial, Art, the Artists, and the Consequences of Rothko : Lasting Legal Impressions From the Estate of a Great Artist.

Donated 1996 by Marilyn Karp. Karp taught at NYU. Her husband, Ivan, had testified at the trial. Harrow had deposited the records with the art department at NYU (his alma mater); Karp subsequently turned them over to AAA.

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