Frank Frazetta’s eldest son (Alfonso “Frank” Frazetta, Jr.) and a couple of friends allegedly broke down the door of his dad’s gallery with a backhoe and loaded 90 paintings onto a truck.
Then the police stopped by.
Frazetta’s son allegedly claimed that his dad told him to get out the paintings by any means necessary and not to use the key or anything normal like that. Frazetta allegedly says he didn’t say anything of the sort.
Honestly, the story makes me feel kinda sick. Frazetta’s son is 52, which is old enough to know better; and Frazetta is 81, which is too old to have to worry about what happens to his paintings while he’s away. Frazetta’s work is important to the history of fantasy painting and illustration, and the world shouldn’t have to worry about his originals coming to grief by moving or stealing them in the middle of a snowstorm and windstorm.
And it’s Advent. Christmas is coming. What could possess you to try and steal your father’s entire personal collection of his own work — with a backhoe? I suppose that the recent sale of a Frazetta Conan cover for a million dollars to an unnamed private collector and Frazetta Conan fan might have something to do with it. Or it could have something to do with the agents for Frazetta changing.
The family financial feud theory is also quite possible, as Mr. Frazetta’s wife passed away this summer and she was the business manager of the family. Apparently she wouldn’t let Frazetta sell any of his major Conan covers back in the day, because she believed they were too valuable to sell. Frazetta suffered several strokes in recent years and had to switch hands; but I’ve never heard anyone claim he was ordering irrational actions. Also, the Frazetta website claims that online Frazetta art auctions are coming in December of 2009, and that the museum was going to be reopened during December of 2009. (It normally wasn’t open during the winter.) There have apparently been times in the past when, as in any family, people couldn’t find the keys when they were wanted; but even if so, what’s with the backhoe?
The local Pocono Record story, with a nice picture of the museum interior, a PDF of the police report, and a video of the son’s wife telling his side of the story. She claims they were doing a court-ordered inventory and securing the paintings outside the museum. (But then, why the backhoe used to break down the door?)
This story brings up the names “Kevin Clement” and “Frank Bush” as the son’s assistants. The fannish Kevin Clement who comes up on web search is a horror conventionrunner; he’s apparently a Frazetta friend associated with the Frazetta Museum, and possibly has a house on the Frazettas’ land.
Another Frazetta son talks on WNEP, linked on this comics blog. He didn’t know anything about it, there’s more than just a backhoe involved, and the paintings were going to be taken (in cold weather! in an unheated trailer!) to an unheated storage unit. Yeah, that’s how to preserve fine oil paintings. Suuuuuuure.
I hope this is just one big fannish misunderstanding. But I don’t really see how.
UPDATE: It would seem that Frazetta Jr. did in fact have paper from Frazetta Sr. authorizing this. Apparently the three other siblings wanted to move all the Frazetta paintings out of the Frazetta Museum, in order to send selected ones touring around galleries. They have now moved the paintings, and that’s the end of that for fans who’d like to see a whole Frazetta body of work.