Belinda Neumann Donnelly sued her father, Hubert G. Neumann on Thursday of last week for “no less than $100 million”. The suit, filed in the New York State Supreme Court alleges that actions taken by Hubert in the weeks leading up to the sale caused lackluster bidding on the Jean-Michel Basquiat work she consigned, Flesh and Spirit (1983), which sold at Sotheby’s on May 16th for $27 million ($30.7 million with fees), below it’s pre-sale estimate of $30 million. As artnet News reported, Belinda expected a nine-figure price, similar to the record sum achieved for Basquiat’s Untitled (1982) in May 2017 when Yusaku Maezawa paid $110.5 million for the work.
Belinda claims that her father’s attempt to halt the painting’s sale, two weeks ahead of the auction, caused the lower-than-expected result. The judge in that previous matter was quick to throw out Herman’s claim that he had rights to the painting. However, Belinda’s lawsuit alleges that her father still managed to dampen bidding on the work “due to perceived uncertainty about the Estate’s right to sell the painting.” The work had been purchased by Belinda’s mother, Dolores Ormandy Neumann, in 1983 for just $15,000. Documents that the judge in the previous complaint referenced in throwing it out showed that Dolores had completely cut her husband out of her will.