Robert Indiana, who died May 19, said in his will that his home and studio are to be transformed into a museum where his collection will be preserved and open to the public.

ROCKLAND — The Maine Attorney General’s Office will monitor the disposition of the $28 million estate of world-acclaimed artist Robert Indiana.

Artist Robert Indiana is shown in one of his studios on Vinalhaven in 2002.

Attorneys representing the personal representative of the estate have filed a petition to demand that four people and two organizations appear in probate court to help determine whether any assets of the Vinalhaven artist were misappropriated.

Indiana died May 19 at the age of 89 at his home, named Star of Hope, on the Penobscot Bay island.

The formal cause of death is pending further studies by the Maine Medical Examiner’s Office but his attorney and personal representative of the estate, James Brannan of Rockland, said Indiana died from respiratory arrest.

The will – signed by Indiana in May 2016 – leaves nearly his entire estate to support the not-for-profit organization Star of Hope Inc. that will turn his home and studio into a museum.

Indiana’s estate includes Star of Hope, two other properties on Vinalhaven, his art collection, and other assets, including any future royalties.


The Attorney General’s Office filed a notice Friday with the Knox County Probate Office to request that the state agency be provided with all filings and documents in the case.

Assistant Attorney Generals Linda Conti said Friday it is common for the office to monitor the disposition of estates when they are large and when a large portion is earmarked for a charity. The notice pointed out that the Attorney General’s Office is in charge of enforcing that gifts, earmarked to charities, be made to those charities.

The charity in this case is the nonprofit museum.

On Thursday, attorneys Barbara Wheaton, Margaret Minister and T. Griffin Leschefske of the Portland law firm Pierce Atwood filed a petition on behalf of Brannan, the personal representative to compel witnesses to come forward.

The petition notes that the personal representative has received information that certain assets of the estate may have been conveyed away, withheld from the estate, or otherwise misappropriated. The lawyers cite the allegations in a federal lawsuit filed by Morgan Art Foundation Limited that alleges that Jamie L. Thomas, Michael McKenzie and American Image Art have sold works, or derivative of the works, of Indiana without proper compensation.

In light of those allegations, the petition seeks unspecified documents from Thomas and McKenzie to properly determine the extent of the assets of Indiana’s estate.


The petition directs that Thomas, McKenzie, the Morgan Art Foundation, Simon Salama-Caro and Marc Salama-Caro appear at probate court. Simon Salama-Caro was an adviser with Morgan Art Foundation in the 1990s who helped promote Indiana’s work.

The hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 18 at the court in Rockland.

Indiana’s will stated that his intent was for Star of Hope to be restored to museum quality for use as an art environment open to the public for visits, classes and lectures and for the continued preservation of is collection and real estate.

The will stipulates that Jamie Thomas of Vinalhaven serve as executive director. Thomas had been Indiana’s caretaker.

A federal lawsuit filed in New York on May 18 – the day before Indiana died – accuses Thomas and McKenzie, a New York art publisher with a long history on Vinalhaven through his association with Indiana, of isolating and exploiting Indiana, forging his art and exhibiting some of it in museums.

The lawsuit accuses Thomas and McKenzie of multiple counts of trademark and copyright infringement, alleging they created fraudulent artwork under Indiana’s name, including a series of prints that were displayed at the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston in 2016.


The lawsuit alleges that Thomas took over Indiana’s email account and sent profanity-laced emails under Indiana’s name, warning people to stay away.

The initial conference on the federal lawsuit is scheduled for July 23 in New York City. Thomas and McKenzie have attorneys but no answers have yet been filed on their behalf.

A telephone message was left last month with Thomas.

Indiana moved to Vinalhaven in 1978, converting the former Victorian-style building that had previously served as the Odd Fellows Lodge into his home and studio.

He is best known for his iconic LOVE image.

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