Catching Up With That Fascinating Federal Case Involving Wendy Reves's Son and the DMA

Dallas Museum of Art
Portrait of Mrs. Emery Reves by Graham Sutherland, 1978
Every week I get two, three emails asking: What's up with the federal lawsuit over The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art? You remember the one: Wendy Reves's son Arnold Leon Schroeder Jr. is suing the Dallas Museum of Art, claiming they done took his mama's Gauguins, Monets, Rodins and van Goghs when they really belong to him. (To which the DMA has responded: Um, no.) Schroeder's also suing former UT Southwestern Medical Center president Kern Wildenthal over a small fortune left to the hospital that he wants back. Writes one reader, "I am somewhat obsessed with this bizarre art collection and lawsuit."

It certainly is one of the stranger suits in recent years -- and I see that just last week attorneys for all sides filed a joint status report, which nicely recaps the history of this litigation for those following along since jump or just now joining the action in progress. It follows, of course, but long story short: The DMA and Wildenthal have filed motions to dismiss, which the court is considering. Meanwhile, Schroeder -- who's repped by former WFAA reporter Valeri Williams, and this never get old --- insists he needs a good year or more to conduct discovery, as he "believes that numerous witnesses will need to be deposed, many of whom reside not only in Texas and New York, but also throughout Europe and in the Bahamas." Meanwhile, all sides have agreed to exchange some docs, but ...
There may be fairly complex issues of privilege pertaining to many documents that will have to be determined to complete this first phase of discovery. The parties anticipate deposing more than 20 witnesses in several states and countries. Taking the depositions in foreign countries may entail cumbersome and slow legal process beyond the control of the parties. Also, several party and non-party witnesses are in their late 70s or early 80s. The parties therefore believe that it may be necessary to depose these individuals earlier in the discovery process rather than later, and that certain health/age issues related to these witnesses may need to be accommodated in conducting these depositions.
Schroeder wants this thing to go to trial in February 2013. I expect this will make a great feature one day. Till then, the story pitch follows. DMA Wildenthal Lawsuit Joint Status Report

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If you think this estate is about money and greed,you are right. It is the greed of one Kern Wildenthal who does not want the estate back for UT Southwestern,but for himself. UT Southwestern is NOT a benefactor.Wildenthal flies to Reves' Estate in the South of France with an attorney where Wendy Reves,having been ruled incompetent by her French physicians,is nearing death.Wildenthal mixes her up a Martini or two and she signs this sham of a will leaving the estate in his care.The son is not greedy,but the only true heir ,for at least 50% of the estate,under French Law.Where did $500,000 come from? Wildenthal throwing a bone and hoping the son would just go away.Remember,this is the same Wildenthal caught in the home of a deceased (still cold in her bed) donor going through the recently deceased papers,jewelry,mail,and legal documents and would not allow the relatives entrance until the police forced him out of the home. Someone had to call the medical examiner to have her body picked up.


So...son wasn't happy with $500K legacy, or even with 50% as ruled by Swiss court.  My guess is, he's looking for a settlement, but he wants too much to suit (ha) the DMA.  I'll be interested to read  the follow up stories.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Wow, Valeri Williams is getting involved in this mess, im guessing the pay day for her will be quite lucrative if and when this thing gets going...

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