Art Market

The Portland Museum of Art won $4.6 million in a lawsuit against a benefactor’s caregiver.

Wallace Ludel
Jul 24, 2019 3:56PM, via Portland Press Herald

The Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine. Photo by John Phelan, via Wikimedia Commons.

On Monday, the Portland Museum of Art was awarded $4.6 million in court after a jury determined that a wealthy woman named Eleanor Potter, who had intended to bequest much of her estate to the museum, had been coerced by her caretaker into changing her will. By Tuesday, however, the Portland Press Herald reported that the caretaker, Annemarie Germain, would appeal the judgement.

According to the museum’s lawyer, Potter signed an estate plan in 2014 that would give her art collection and a substantial cash gift to the museum. Then, roughly six months later, she signed a new will in which Germain was named as her sole beneficiary. Potter died in 2015 at age 89. The museum asserted that the caregiver manipulated and isolated Potter, while the caregiver says that Potter thought of her like a daughter.

The jury took one hour to reach its unanimous conclusion in favor of the museum, awarding the museum nearly $3.3 million considered to be lost due to the change in the will as well as over $1 million in punitive damages. To put this into context, the museum received a total of roughly $8 million in contributions and grants in 2017, so this is a substantial amount of money for them. Germain is now appealing the judgement, and her lawyer is asserting that she was victim to multiple legal errors throughout the trial.

Wallace Ludel