Lawsuit filed over possession of works by late children’s author

On Behalf of | Dec 31, 2014 | Probate Litigation

Individuals who make a living by practicing their art often prove to be inspirational examples for future generations. Upon their passing many famous actors, writers, painters, sculptors and singers continue to be an inspiration to the general public and to future artists through the works they leave behind.

Museums around the world boast the works of famous painters and writers, the works of playwrights live on in theaters throughout the world and the songs of many beloved singers continue to be heard on the radio and sung by other artists. For artists who want to ensure the fruits of their labor continue to be enjoyed by the young and old alike, it’s important to plan accordingly.

The late Maurice Sendak is perhaps best known as the author of the beloved children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. During his life, Sendak authored many books and also amassed an impressive collection of rare books. While alive, many of Sendak’s books were displayed at a Philadelphia museum, called the Rosenbach Museum and Library, with which the author had close ties.

Upon his death in 2012, Sendak’s will stipulated that many of his works were to remain on display at the Rosenbach. According to the will, the executors of Sendak’s estate were to “negotiate” terms related to which books and works should remain at the Rosenbach. To date, however, no such negotiations have occurred and more recently the Rosenbach sued the late author’s foundation and its trustees.

Under the terms of Sendak’s will, several volumes of his works and other rare-book collections he owned were to be displayed at the Rosenbach. To date, however, only a small fraction of the late-author’s collection has been turned over to the museum and fears remain that trustees to the Maurice Sendak Foundation plan to auction off many of the invaluable literary gems at an upcoming January auction.

The events that have transpired since Sendak’s death would likely anger and sadden the late-author. This example of an estate dispute serves as a reminder to Ohio residents about the importance of leaving clear and explicit directions in a will. Wills that contain seemingly ambiguous language can be misinterpreted and used to carry out unintended actions.

Source:, “Rosenbach sues Sendak Foundation over rare books,” Peter Dobrin, Nov. 11, 2014


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