Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Ugly Picture

Well this sure is sad, and a sobering reminder to make sure you have your affairs in order. Even though the late celebrity photographer Francesco Scavullo made arrangements before he died for his partner of 34 years, Sean Byrnes, things are still turning ugly. 

The New York Post reports:
The ailing gay lover of the late fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo is battling the renowned artist’s family for possession of his valuable photo archives. 
The Staten Island-born Scavullo famously snapped a nude Burt Reynolds for Cosmopolitan and took shots of Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Brooke Shields. 
Many of those iconic images are in storage, locked away from Sean Byrnes, 61, the lensman’s assistant who lived with him for 34 years until his death in 2004. 
“In sum, Byrnes was half of the Scavullo creative process and photography business,” his attorney, Gary Mennitt, says in papers filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court. He had “an intimate, unique, working knowledge of the archive.” 
Executors for Scavullo’s $1.5 million estate are telling Byrnes to keep his paws off the pieces, arguing they are not the “tangible property” Scavullo left him in his will. 
Byrnes lives in a Brooklyn medical facility, where he’s treated for a depression that followed Scavullo’s death. Byrnes' sister Anne Kramer now acts as a guardian.
In papers filed last week, Kramer insists the tangible property includes the archives. She says Byrnes is entitled to half of them, including a portrait of Andy Warhol that Rolex once paid $25,000 to use. 
Scavullo willed the other half to a foundation set up in his name to benefit poor children and AIDS patients. 
The executors — Scavullo’s niece Angela Scott and friend Michael Horowitz — argue in court papers that the artist intended for Byrnes to benefit from the archives only through payments from a trust. 
But Byrnes’ attorneys say that he’s owed the pieces and that the executors have failed to make distributions to the trust for nine years. 
Likewise, Kramer says in court filings that they have failed to generate income from the archives. Byrnes, she says, gets just $2,000 a month from the estate and is in “dire financial need.” 
Her lawyer, Gary Mennitt, told The Post she “felt compelled to act for her brother . . . to secure him what life partner Francesco indicated he wanted for Sean.”

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