Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gee's Bend - Press Conference Response to Franklin Suit

1pm Wednesday the attorneys for the Arnetts held a press conference in Birmingham, AL to respond to the lawsuit filed by Lucinda Pettway Franklin. A Florida Times-Union online news report "last updated at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27, 2007" said:

"[the] lawsuit accusing the Atlanta collectors of taking quilts more than 100 years old is baseless because the quilt fabric is half that age.

"Experts who evaluated the quilts in dispute said they were made in the 1950s and '60s, attorneys Greg Hawley and Gary Coulter said at a news conference in Birmingham.

"Peter Burke, attorney for plaintiff Lucinda Pettway Franklin of Mobile, responded by pointing out the written evaluations weren't done until after his client filed suit, even though the promoters had the quilts for more than two years."

There is a press release on the Tinwood blog which provides more details about the Tinwood response, including the quilt appraisals. From the press release:
"We have had these quilts appraised by certified appraisers from Georgia and California. The Georgia appraiser, Holly Anderson, appraised the two older quilts as created in 1965. Julie Silber, an appraiser in Albion, California, dated one of the quilts as made between 1950 and 1960, with a value of $250 - $450. Ms. Silber appraised the second quilt as made between 1950 and 1960, and valued at $100 to $250. (Copies of these appraisals are available upon request)."

Presumably the appraisals are available from Dindy Yokel (305) 632-455 at the Miami Beach, Florida PR firm, Dindy Co, which issued the press release.

The press release goes on to explain that:
"Finally, these experts in the field of fabric and quilts indicate that these quilts are worth, at most several hundred dollars. They are not “priceless” as plaintiff claims, or worth $100,000 as was reported in one newspaper story.

"Because Ms. Franklin’s claims may have the effect of undermining the integrity and goodwill of Gee’s Bend Quilts, a motion was filed today by the Arnetts’ attorneys for the federal court to appoint its own expert in the field of quilts and fabrics so that these sensational allegations can stop before further damage is done.When public confidence in the integrity of this art is undermined, the ultimate losers are the women of Gee’s Bend who create these quilts.

"When the integrity is called into question, art galleries are less likely to represent the women and their quilts. Art museums are less inclined to promote tours of the quilts. Ultimately, the value of these art forms could decline and the demand for them will diminish. This is to the detriment of everyone involved with Gee’s Bend Quilts."

The press release was posted as a comment on one of the Black Threads blog posts at 3pm - just two hours after the press conference. I read that another blogger - Extreme Crafts - also had the press release posted on that blog. QuiltersMuse blog has the release - with photos.


Sonji Hunt said...

Kyra, I also received a post on my blog from Dindy that said the articles were on-sided. Never said they UNTRUE though

Anonymous said...

The lawsuits are frivolous and fraudulent. As for the articles there are more untruths about the Arnetts then there is space to type here. And, as this is all currently in litigation I am not at liberty to comment on each and every item in the articles. It is a sad commentary on the world today that people are so ready to believe the one-sided presentation from a group of lawyers representing three women out of a group of more than 50 quilters than a family who have done a tremendous job bringing previously unknown - but outstandingly talented - artists into the public eye. Are we all this jaded? Dindy

Anonymous said...

How convient that there is litigation and Ms Yokel is unable to comment on the facts presented thus far... Of course, the heart of the lawsuits, if one actually reads them, is that there should be an accounting of all of the money that has been received by the Arnetts on behalf of the Gee's Bend quilters. There has been a complete lack of transparency in their accounting of this money from day one. If one reads The Last Folk Hero by Andrew Dietz, you will see that the Arnetts have been warned that this would cause trouble for them by such people as the directors of the Milwaulkee and Houston museums. What seems to frustrate the Arnetts the most is that up until now they have been able to go around bragging about the money that they have put into the Gee's Bend community without anyone doing any fact checking or asking harder questions. Now people have come along that are asking those questions and quite frankly, the Arnetts do not seem to have any answers.
I will make one final point and be done. The lawsuits are based on the LAW and copyright law says that no one can give up their rights without doing so in writing. Both sides agree that there has been no such agreement signed by Ms Young. There obviously was no such thing for Ms. Pettway until Matt Arnett showed up at her house and gave her $2,000 to sign a piece of paper she couldn't read. Therefore, the lawsuits are not "frivolous" or "fraudulent" in nature.