JUDGE FIRES EXECUTOR OF ALLAN STONE ESTATEFeb. 9, 2012
In a win for the family of late dealer Allan Stone, a judge has fired the executor of his embattled $300 million estate, Lelia Wood-Smith. The trouble began after Stone died in 2006 and left his famous Ab-Ex art collection and three homes in a trust named for his wife, the Clare Stone Marital Trust. But Clare Stone soon accused Wood-Smith of taking $8.5 million from the trust to buy a home in Greenwich, Conn., where she is said to have stored the collection without the court’s permission. Since then she’s been trying to have Wood-Smith removed from the job.
A couple weeks ago, judge Anthony Scarpino, Jr., of the Westchester County Surrogates Court decided that Wood-Smith is “an unsuitable person to execute the trust” and removed her from overseeing the trust and the estate.
Others party to the dispute include two of Stone’s six daughters, Allison Stone Stabile, who is now president of the Allan Stone Gallery, and Claudia Stone, who is in the process of opening her own space.
The news comes from Oriane Stender, an artist who showed with Allan Stone and says that her works were among those hijacked by Wood-Smith and taken to an “undisclosed location.” Wood-Smith was alleged to have brought to the Greenwhich house 64 works from Stone’s collection, including several by Arshile Gorky, Wayne Thiebaud and Willem de Kooning, valued at a total of $2 million. Writing on her Facebook page in September, Stender said, “My calls and emails -- with attached consignment documentation -- to all the principals continue to go unanswered.” Soon after, her name and images were removed from the website.
Stender now reports that she filed a complaint in small claims court and that most of her work has since been returned. In an email she wrote, “In the opinion of half of the Stone family, and of this artist, they are well rid of Ms. Wood-Smith.”