Warhol Lesson for Lenkiewicz Estate

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  • #6870

    Site Admin
    Participant

    Unfortunately Robert’s life and affairs continue to be shrouded in misinformation, misunderstanding and apparent contradictions. I suspect that during his lifetime Robert actively encouraged this, and some comments made in this thread only confirm what I regularly hear – namely that Robert never allowed anybody to have 100% access to him (I’ve heard it described as Robert having a series of pigeon holes into which people were placed, and each pigeon hole was only ever allowed very selective (and controlled) access to Robert and his affairs). In reality, I doubt that anybody will ever know the full truth of Robert’s life (although there must be a lot of books just waiting to be written 🙂 ), and that is perhaps the way he would have chosen it to be.

    However, there is a real danger that the next few years will be spent arguing over "what Robert would want", and we shall all wake one morning to find that the opportunity to create an appropriate and lasting tribute to Robert's life has been lost (perhaps it will be reported in the Herald as "no expressions of interest were received ...").

    As Esther correctly states, it is all too easy for us on the sidelines to be critical at the apparent lack of progress. Unfortunately, this is likely to continue whilst the Executor, the Foundation, the council, and the media all insist on making contradictory statements at every given opportunity (sit down with a pile of news clippings, and you will soon see what I mean).

    Perhaps it is too soon after Robert's death. Perhaps for those who were close to Robert, the scars are still too tender. Or perhaps some people were simply too close to Robert to think and act objectively now (a comment regularly made about some of those involved with the Foundation). Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes another 20-50 years for a permanent tribute to Robert to be established in Plymouth (I suspect that this will give city historians time to re-write Robert's life to something that is more palatable to the council tax-paying masses). I hope to be proved wrong.

    #6871

    esther
    Participant

    I can see your point Dave, and I can see the apparent contradictions, please remember however that the media is rarely accurate, and even when it gets its facts right it usually doesn’t present the full picture. Also it’s hard to give consistent information when we are on shifting sands and the situation changes daily.As for being emotionally involved, you are absolutely right, some of us are single-minded and probably lacking objectivity, but in our defence I would say that the small group of people who are feeling ‘too close’ to it, including myself are the only people doing anything at all. With a project as fraught with difficulties and obstacles as this one it’s only the people who live and breathe this that can find the stamina to stick with it, despite more bad news almost daily. We can either give up entirely or do the best we can do in the circumstances, and we have no intention of giving up yet!

    #6872

    allarewellcome
    Participant

    My feelings on this are quite clear I.E. The lenkiewicz foundation are doing a job out of passion and love for Robert and his work , so put up or shut up . Its easy to criticise from the sidelines , my hopes are that there is success in the mission , if not at least , they have done what they could to create the goal. 😆 😀

    #6873

    bookmark
    Participant

    Just read what Esther said about the difficulties everyone is facing and although I am not in a position to help financially. I am willing to give up my time and energy in what everway I can be made useful. All without charge. Robert helped me so much over the years that I would like to repay his kindness to me. And if I can do so in only a small way I know that it will bring a smile to my old friends face.

    #6874

    petegang
    Participant

    At last someone who’s willing to put their money where their mouth is!!! 😀 I’ve just seen today’s herald and am a bit confused. Why is Mr Pasonage restoring Robert’s mural using an amateur ‘painter’ who couldnt possibly hope to match Robert’s work, does he want it to become the barbican’s newest laughing stock?
    I remember Robert telling me how much he was looking forward to pulling the mural down and replacing it with his designs on a stained glass window, why doesn't someone continue with Robert's intentions instead of using every possible opportunity to get press attention and make money. Isn't parsonage a property developer? Lets see how long it is before he tears down Robert's studio and replaces it with luxury apartments. If he feels so passionate to preserve Robert's studio why doesn't he give the building to the foundation on a rent they could afford and help them to refurbish it? Someone at the solicitors told me that he's actually slapping on a bill for nearly 200,000 to the estate for work to be carried out on the building. How many paintings will they need to sell to pay your bill Mr parsonage? Could someone from the foundation confirm that this is the case please?

    #6875

    esther
    Participant

    The Foundation would love to use Robert’s studio, it’s clearly the place which is most associated with Robert, however even if we could afford the commercial rent it isn’t safe to be opened to the public in its present state. Robert was able to open it and not worry too deeply about the consequences of people banging their heads or having no fire escapes, but the Foundation is a registered charity and could not open the building to the public without extensive renovations. We looked into funding for that but cannot receive public money to renovate a building which belongs to someone else. I don’t think it’s accurate that Chris Parsonage offered us a lease, I think that Annie talked to him and understood that he was going to give us a legal option to buy the premises within eighteen months, but when she heard nothing she contacted his solicitor who said that Mr Parsonage had given him no such instruction. Since then we have heard nothing at all. As for the bill you ask about, I think the executor has received a schedule of dilapidations from Mr Parsonage, which if proved correct will be extremely costly to the estate. You’ll have to contact Boyce Hatton though if you want more information.
    Thank you for your kind offer bookmark, please come and make yourself known to us, we will certainly be glad of any time and energy you have to give!!

    #6876

    Site Admin
    Participant
    Letter published in the Plymouth Evening Herald wrote:
    Following Martin Freeman’s interview with Annie Hill-Smith (Herald, November 12), I do find it very sad that such caring people as Annie, Esther Dallaway and Anna Navas are being put through this trauma trying to preserve Robert Lenkiewicz’s gift to the people of Plymouth. In his book Brief Biography, Robert said: “At no point should any books be sold for any reason” and “If it is considered necessary, certain paintings may be sold provided that they are not paintings taken from the artist’s collection”. Sadly, that is happening to pay debts incurred daily by legal costs, taxes etc.

    It was heartbreaking to see at Sotheby's London auction paintings of Robert's family going under the hammer.

    Why did the solicitor choose to sell the intimate family paintings of Robert with his sons Wolf and Reuben, or his wife Mouse holding Alice, their daughter?

    Thanks to Paul Somerville of the Mayflower Gallery, Plymouth people may be able to view the painting of Mouse etc., but a greater commitment is needed from the council and major bodies.

    The Herald reported in November 2002 that the Lenkiewicz collection had been saved by Robert's friend Chris Parsonage, who had bought the building and stated it was "vital the artist's legacy was protected" and "should stay here".

    We regarded him as a benefactor similar to Casanova Ballard or Lady Astor, who both gave huge gifts to Plymouth in perpetuity. But has Mr Parsonage decided financial profit is the bottom line?

    The ideal Lenkiewicz Centre would be at his studio, which will always have Robert's spirit in every stone, but if this isn't possible perhaps the Mayflower Centre, which has stood empty for many months and is costing the council money, could be leased to the Foundation at a reasonable rent.

    Where in the Plymouth area are the benefactors who could support the Foundation in partnership with the council and stop the spiralling legal costs?

    Perhaps a keen professional fundraiser would be prepared to give time and expertise.

    Maybe the Foundation should copy august bodies such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and National Gallery to produce copies of Robert's work on paperweights, scarves etc.

    Robert might have smiled at such suggestions, but he would have cried to see his works dispersed for good!

    I appeal to the council and business community and art lovers to get together and preserve what is left of this unique legacy.
    #6877

    triangle
    Participant

    Dear All,

    I have been watching these boards with some interest for the past couple of months, and have seen, with some amusement, the variety of different explanations stated as to Robert Lenkiewicz's motivations with regard to the Lenkiewicz Foundation and Fisher Mackenzie.

    I write as someone who was a part of Lenkiewicz's circle and have no axe to grind now that he is dead nor an agenda to follow, but I do wish to set a few matter on record, free from some of the misrepresentations that have been given on here. I am aware that I may be accused of having only partial knowledge about Robert's affairs, of being 'pigeon-holed' by him, but I was certainly informed about a great deal of his daily activities, and have therefore found it slightly laughable that Esther comes on to this site and is regarded as some kind of Oracle about Robert's dealings, especially as he kept quite a lot of his affairs from her, including what went on in the Basement and Theology studios, where he spent the better part of his working days during his last years.

    Taking Fisher Mackenzie to begin with; the company was set up in 1998 jointly by Robert Lenkiewicz, Anna Navas and Esther Dallaway. The agreement was that Anna Navas and Esther Dallaway should have a 12.5% share in the business each, in other words they had only 12.5% of the proceeeds of the sale prints each; indeed Robert went around telling everyone that Anna and Esther only took £500 per month payment from the business. The remaining share of the business and profits belonged to Robert. He owned the greater portion of the business, and as Esther has stated on here, it was set up to help clear Robert's debts, though it is an overstatement to say that almost all of Robert's finances were dealt with by Fisher Mackenzie.

    Contrary to what was states in these boards on 4/12/2003, there are quite a number of cash claims against the Estate, not just the one substantial claim as advertised. Not all of the claims are for paintings.

    Robert repeatedly stated quite unambiguously that he did not want any of the books to be sold off in the event of his death. He was quite certain that all of the books should be held together, with paintings sold at their expense if need be. He believed that every book was important and the whole collection should be kept together. Of course, now that he has died and the Executor has to administer the Estate, money has to be raised from somewhere, and, alas, parts of the Estate have had to be sold, but statements along the lines of Robert laughing at the recent auctions with a brush in his hand are made by people who evidently have little idea of the importance of the collection to Robert.

    The reason why Robert did not hand over any paintings or books to the Foundation before his death was, quite simply, that he did not believe that they were very capable of achieving what he had in mind, and stated that he would not be handing over anything to the Foundation until he was quite certain that they could provide a secure future for the books and paintings. Robert was searching for a private backer for his proposed Centre for the Provocation of Thought, often independently of the Foundation Trustees, and met individuals and fund-raisers without members of the Foundation being present. As it was, the Foundation did not get the funding they bid for before his death, which is why they do not have the books and paintings now.

    I hope these statements clarify a few of the misinformed posts that have been submitted on this site.

    Warmest wishes

    Triangle

    #6878

    allarewellcome
    Participant

    My sentiments exactly, we all think and thought of ourselves as in the inner circle, but Robert was Robert and anybody who spoke to the man on a one to one and regular basis would agree none of of us never really got to the bottom of this man . I suppose thats what made him so appealing. Lets put things into context here the lenkiewicz foundation are our only chance of making Roberts and 😕 most of our dreams come true . So lets get behind it and pull in the same direction, because if we dont the crap so called authorities and preditors will not.

    #6879

    petegang
    Participant

    FIRSTLY I DON’T THINK ANYONE SEES ESTHER OR THE OTHER TRUSTEES AS ORACLES, AND THEYARE THE FIRST TO ADMIT THAT THEY ALL ONLY KNEW WHAT ROBERT WISHED THEM TO KNOW, HOWEVER I’M SURE THAT THEY ARE MIGHTILY RELEIVED IN THE LIGHT OF THE INEVITABLE INLAND REVENUE INVESTIGATION THEY THEY DIDN’T HAVE ACCESS TO ALL OF ROBERT’S LIFE. IF YOU WERE, AS YOU VERY PROUDLY CLAIM, IN ROBERT’S INNER CIRCLE, YOU MUST HAVE SEEN ALL THIS CHAOS COMING, COULDN’T YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING ABOUT IT? OR ARE YOU WRITING ANONYMOULY TO AVOID DEALING WITH ANY AWKWARD QUESTIONS YOURSELF? I WOULD ASSUME THAT ONLY THE EXECUTORS AND THE FOUNDATION HAVE ACCESS TO THE FACTS REGARDING THE CURRENT SITUATION SO I WOULD RECOMMEND IGNORING ANY INFO THAT DOESN’T COME FROM THEM!!!

    #6880

    art3366
    Participant

    What fun!! Thanks to Triangle and Neon for some well informed intelligent comment.

    It is a shame that Esther always gets so much stick. At least she says who she is!! And she has climbed a mountain for the foundation, literally.

    Postings like this make me weep......

    IF YOU WERE, AS YOU VERY PROUDLY CLAIM, IN ROBERT'S INNER CIRCLE, YOU MUST HAVE SEEN ALL THIS CHAOS COMING, COULDN'T YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING ABOUT IT?


    Do some peole actually read what is posted? Perhaps not!

    #6881

    billy budd
    Participant

    There’s a lot of criticism of the Foundation going on, but it comes down to a simple fact: the Trustees are not professionals, not skilled in marketing, fundraising, etc. and they cannot be blamed for this.

    As Triangle stated, Robert himself was approaching fundraisers and private individuals. It has been mooted that the Foundation was Robert's excuse to carry on his bibliomania and give it legitimacy. This does not mean that he was cynically using them, he was just doing what we all do, giving in to our inner desire. That is not to say that his vision of a centre for the provocation of thought was not genuine; it's just that his immediate impulses got in the way and there was no-one strong enough to guide him.

    The thing that does worry me is this statement that 'Fisher Mackenzie is Anna and myself'. I believe it was not the decent thing to do, right from the start of Fisher Mackenzie, to take 12.5%. (Four prints x 12.5% is 50% each per year- this means at least £50,000 each.) This is for part-time work, and as most visitors to the Annexe will know it was often closed. Lenkiewicz's mathematical abilities were inversely proportional to his artistic talent. So, I believe, he was hiding his embarrassment when he realised how much he had agreed to pay them, by saying they only drew £500 per month. There was probably an element of wishful thinking in this as well, particularly considering his monetary debts.

    This is where my knowledge of the Fisher mackenzie agreement between Robert and Anna and Esther ends. But, I am now surprised to hear that at the stage when Robert died the estate appeared not to own the proceeds of the last print. Somehow the whole of Fisher Mackenzie had transferred into the hands of Anna and Esther.

    #6882

    Site Admin
    Participant
    billy budd wrote:
    Four prints x 12.5% is 50% each per year- this means at least £50,000 each.
    Are you suggesting that the profit from each limited edition was £100,000? On a release of 500 prints, this would equate to £200 profit per print. I have no idea pf the level of costs involved in releasing a print (production, distribution, etc.), but this does seem high

    Or perhaps I am simply in the wrong line of business 😯 😕 😛
    #6883

    esther
    Participant

    It’s strange to have private business discussed by strangers, however to avoid further innuendo and incorrect gossip I can tell you that although in 1998 we did have a loose agreement with Robert, and the other partner who was involved in the setting up of Fisher mackenzie,and yes the idea was that instead of Robert receiving 10% of the wholesale price from Washington Green, he would receive 75% of the retail from Fisher Mackenzie. Infact, we dismally failed to give Robert 75%, he got much more! Anna and I were paid £400 per month (when there were funds available!), and that was a full time job for me not part time. For the first couple of years the prints were slow to sell, they were also silkscreens and cost a huge amount of money to produce, and as I have said previously Robert’s debts were the priority. Over two years we got him out of debt, at least the existing debts we had set out to deal with. In year three our wages went up to £750 a month (before tax), and in the final year they went up to £1000 per month (before tax). We almost made it to minimum wage! In 2001 Robert asked his accountant to remove him from the partnership as he was worried his debts might come to a head and affect Fisher Mackenzie, from that point Robert received the same amount of money he always had, but received it as royalties rather than partnership payouts. Luckily Fisher Mackenzie paid all of Robert’s tax etc.. due on his share, unfortunately the same cannot be said of those helping Robert to sell paintings from the basement and elsewhere. Of course Robert had the responsibility to do this himself, but ‘assistants’ weren’t necessairily acting in Robert’s best interests. If they had been, they would have been encouraging Robert to do everything ‘above board’, as we were constantly trying to do. We are working closely with the executor, who has had access to our accounts in relation to what Robert earnt, and it would be stupid to make the suggestion that anything untoward was going on. I believe that Yana is incorrect when she said that Robert didn’t hand anything over to the Foundation because he thought they were incompetent. Infact Robert understood the difficulties very well and even understood that his own behaviour made the situation very difficult. If he didn’t trust the foundation he would not have made them the main beneficiaries of his will. He thought it was the only chance of anything surviving in the total absence of support, financial and otherwise from almost everyone who’s expressed an interest before Robert’s death and afterwards. Anonymous slurs on Fisher Mackenzie’s role are ill-informed and it seems, a little malicious. It’s odd that no-one is pointing the accusatory finger at all the sitters who Robert was paying to sit for him, and who were also expecting ‘a cut’ from the sales of these paintings, or the assistants who were being paid a wage by Robert but also getting a commission on handling these sales. How come all this is ‘legitimate’, but the only aspect of Robert’s life which was being run properly (and transparently), Fisher Mackenzie, is constantly being questioned?

    #6884

    art3366
    Participant

    Esther

    Fisher Mckenzie did more to bring Robert's work to the fore than almost anything else (perhaps even more than NEC exhibition).

    Whether you and Anna earned £500 or £6000 a month was your and Robert's business, and nobody else's.

    I can't understand all this criticism to be honest. Why these people think they have the right to publish such outlandish and hurtful things is beyond me.

    You and Anna did your best on his behalf, just ignore the snipers as best you can.

    art3366

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