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Friends of late artist seeking $60 million in trustees' fees

Although pop artist Robert Rauschenberg died in 2008 on his exclusive Florida island, some of his closest friends are embroiled in a battle over his money. The three friends were given the duty of administering the man's trust that was part of his $600 million estate. The men are asking for $60 million in fees for administering the trust, and the case will probably go before a Lee County court this year.

Rauschenberg died on May 12, 2008, at the age of 82. He specialized in using everyday items in his paintings and using free-standing mixed media works. He also used photographs in some of his artwork. Some of his work has dramatically increased in value since his death. The court will have to decide if the $60 million requested by the friends is a reasonable amount under Florida law for the services that they rendered. A representative for the artist's charitable foundation, which is the primary beneficiary, said that the man chose the trustees because he believed that they would understand that the foundation was an important part of the legacy that he would leave behind. He said that the friends' actions were, however, contradictory to his intent.

With the increased value of his art, the trust is believed to be valued at approximately $2 billion. According to the trust, the foundation was to manage the art and keep supporting charities and emerging artists. A hearing regarding the matter is set for March 31. The trustees say that they deserve the fees because they have helped the trust assets increase in value and have had to deal with complicated financial and legal matters.

Individuals who wish to preserve their wealth may decide to consult with an estate planning lawyer. They may be able to provide suggestions about how to minimize the amount of fees necessary to carry out the individual's final wishes.

Source: News Daily, "Late artist's trustees seeking $60 million in fees", Tamara Lush, January 06, 2014

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