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Trust administration dispute could cost of millions

When individuals are given the responsibility of managing a high-asset trust, they are charged with distributing large amounts of funds and property on behalf of another individual’s estate. And in cases where the estate is dynamic and growing, trustees can be greatly involved in the process of administering trusts, warranting compensation for their efforts. The question is, then, how much money are trustees actually entitled to? That is the question at the heart of one dispute between the estate and foundation of a famous painter and the three individuals he chose as his trustees.

The famous pop artist, Robert Rauschenberg, maintained a long and productive career, and is named along with artists like Andy Warhol for showcasing common items in his paintings. The Florida artist had an illustrious artistic career and died at the age of 82, in 2008. Two years after his death, one of Rauschenberg’s multimedia works was sold at auction for an incredible $11 million. In addition to being a lucrative artist, Rauschenberg is also known for his generosity and philanthropy. The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation supports a number of charities and other causes.

It’s for that reason that Rauschenberg assigned the administration of his trust to three personal friends. It’s estimated that the artist’s estate equaled $600 million at the time of his death. Now, the three trustees are asking for $60 million as payment for their services in growing the estate and promoting the artist’s work.

A lawsuit was filed by Rauschenberg’s foundation and family, claiming that the trustees are not entitled to that amount of money since it was allegedly intended to go to his foundation. The high-profile trust administration dispute is expected to go to trial this spring.

Source:, “Battle over $60M in fees at issue in court case involving artist Robert Rauschenberg’s estate,” Tamara Lush, Jan. 6, 2014

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