New York philanthropists John and Marcia Friede collected 4,000 or more pieces of New Guinea tribal art over four decades and promised the prized works to the de Young Museum in a series of agreements dating to 2003.
The de Young Museum specifically designed an 8,000-square-foot gallery named for the couple to house the collection when it rebuilt its Golden Gate Park home. The artwork, named the Jolika Collection after the first letters in the Friedes' three children's names, was to be transferred over a period of years. But the couple also used the works to secure loans from Sotheby's to acquire more pieces and, at the insistence of John Friede's brothers, put the collection up as collateral in an inheritance dispute following the 2005 death of John Friede's mother, Evelyn A.J. Hall, sister of publishing tycoon Walter Annenberg.
John Friede had paid his brothers more than $22 million of the $30 million, but legal fees and interest made the shortfall around $10 million, court documents show. In April, the city agreed to sell 76 works not at the museum to help pay the Friedes' debts. Only some have been sold.
Under the settlement, the balance John Friede owes his brothers will be set at $5.65 million and will be paid from three sources: John Friede's one-third share of the Pierre Bonnard painting "Le dejeuner" that he owns with his brothers; a portion of a $3.7 million payment from his mother's estate that was to go the de Young to pay for upkeep, promotion and study of the Jolika Collection; and proceeds held in escrow from the sale of some of the works not housed at the museum, lawyers involved in the case said.
"We've achieved a great result in protecting the museum's works from the brothers' claims," Deputy City Attorney Don Margolis said. "Everyone compromised to some extent."
Rosemary Halligan, an attorney for Friede's half-brother, Thomas Jaffe, noted that the agreement is tentative.
"We're not there yet, but we're hopeful that we'll get there," Halligan said. The Board of Trustees for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which oversees the de Young, signed off on the proposal Dec. 10. 'Very, very pleased' John Friede said it is premature to comment before the settlement is finalized, but added that he is "very, very pleased with the progress."
Also unclear is what will happen to about 3,500 pieces at the Friedes' Rye, N.Y., home, which the couple has planned to gradually turn over to the de Young. Some could be sold to resolve the Sotheby's case in New York. "We believe it's still (the Friedes') desire to bequeath these works to the museum," Margolis said. (Refer to http://www.sfgate.com/)