BOSTON — The Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) is refusing to surrender 17 paintings and other artwork by assisted-suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian, saying he donated them to it and his estate has no right to claim them nearly 12 years after it put them on display at the Watertown-based organization .
ALMA housed the contested oil works since Kevorkian’s 1999 conviction for second-degree murder. The museum has exhibited the paintings in two shows since 1999.
The paintings were among 140 Kevorkian’s personal effects that are scheduled to be auctioned on Oct. 28 in New York City to raise money for a children’s cancer charity.
The museum has sued Kevorkian estate’s attorney in Middlesex County Court, arguing that Kevorkian and his sister had publicly declared that he had donated the works to the organization.
“[Armenian Library and Museum of America] contends that the paintings were donated to ALMA by Dr. Kevorkian, are owned by ALMA, are part of its permanent collection and should remain as part of its permanent collection,” attorney Harold Potter said in a statement.
The lawsuit claims that Kevorkian attended the opening of a second exhibit after he was released from prison and said that he was “very pleased that he had donated his entire collection” to the museum. A newspaper reported that the physician donated all the items to the museum, according to the lawsuit.
But attorney Mayer Morganroth of Birmingham, Mich., on Wednesday said the claims were “absurd” because neither he nor Kevorkian signed any document donating the paintings.
“The only reason they got [the paintings] was because Jack trusted them,” said Morganroth. “Now when they realize there might be some value in them, they try to hold onto them. It’s outrageous.”
“I can’t believe the greed. Those paintings are worth a great deal of money,” Morganroth added. “I am very, very embarrassed by their behavior.”
The 17 paintings are valued at $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
He will file a motion to move the lawsuit to federal court and seek triple damages.
The museum says it will keep the paintings until the matter is resolved in court.
Kevorkian’s niece said she was “appalled” that the museum, “which is near and dear to our hearts because of our Armenian heritage, would be so callous to not consider Uncle Jack’s wishes.”

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