The Pocono Record story has been updated on the Frank Frazetta artwork theft we reported earlier today, giving some background and the names of the accomplices, a video of Frank Jr’s wife explaining her side of things, and a copy of the police report.
The driver of the backhoe is identified as Frank Bush, against whom charges are pending. A third man is identified as Kevin Clement, who lived next door to the Frazetta museum. Clement is a familiar figure to east coast fantasy fans are the organizer of the Chiller Theatre Expo horror conventions held twice a year in New Jersey. Clement, it is important to note, has not been charged with any crimes.
Some idea of the family squabble following Ellie Frazetta’s death is emerging:
Frank Jr.’s wife, Lori Frazetta, said the incident was the result of family infighting that began after the death of Frank Sr.’s wife, Ellie, a few months ago. According to Lori, Frank Jr. and Ellie ran the family business until Ellie’s death a few months ago – when the infighting over Frank Sr.’s paintings began.
Lori Frazetta said her husband, Frank Jr., notified state troopers of his intentions to inventory the paintings, pursuant to a civil litigation among family members. She also said Frank Jr. was planning to take the paintings to a secured location when he was apprehended.
Troopers called Frazetta Sr., who was in Florida at the time. Frazetta Sr. denied that Jr. had the right to move the paintings.
Obviously, this is a custody battle with millions at stake — the 90 paintings taken were insured for $20 million, but on the open market would be worth much more. Over the years Frank Frazetta Sr. has held on to his artwork, refusing huge sums to sell such iconic works as his Conan covers. However, after Ellie’s death, Frazetta’s three other children, Heidi, Holly and Bill retained art dealers Robert Pistella and Steve Ferzoco to start handling the artwork, licensing and other business matters. The two formed Frazetta Management Corp. and the way Frazetta’s art was being handled began to change — in November for the first time one of his legendary Conan covers was sold for $1 million. Not chump change and just the beginning of a likely goldmine.
It’s not exactly a secret that there are a lot of legal questions regarding Frazetta’s iconic artwork — the Frazettas had a legal entanglement with David Spurlock/Vanguard productions, for instance. With mentions of a family lawsuit, and other infighting it’s clear that just how to run the family business has become a matter of contention to the point where a backhoe was brought in.
Frazetta’s own condition — weakened by a series of strokes over the years and, according to the Pocono Record report, suffering from dementia — makes everything even sadder.
It’s likely that more troubling details will come out eventually about some of this. We’ll do our best to report what’s germane and not merely petty.