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Billionaire Hubert Neumann arrested during bitter family feud over ‘world-class’ art collection reminiscent of HBO hit ‘Succession’

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It was three days before Christmas when cops arrived to arrest aging billionaire Hubert Neumann at his NYC townhouse.

His own son-in-law had called the cops on him amid a huge family feud over their astonishing art collection.

Hubert, now 91, was hauled away on December 22, 2018, at age 86, after Jeffrey Donnelly, married to his daughter Belinda, accused him of a ‘shoulder shove’.

He spent the night sleeping on the freezing cold floor of a police cell, surrounded by vermin.

Speaking about the moment he was put into a cell with two other men, Hubert, who was 86 at the time, told The Post: “These guys said, ‘Hey man, what are you doing here?’ Because they said I was an old guy. I said, ‘My family put me in jail.’ They said, ‘What kind of family you got, man?’”

More than four years later, the battle has only got worse.

It is so reminiscent of HBO hit ‘Succession’, that Hubert’s youngest daughter Melissa Neumann, who remains close to her dad, admitted: “I had to stop watching it as it hit too close to home.”

 

Hubert Neumann, Melissa Neumann

Billionaire Hubert Neumann and his youngest daughter Melissa Neumann at his NYC home – as he discusses his 2018 arrest.
EMMY PARK
 

Hubert Neumann

The moment Neumann was arrested on December 22, 2018, was caught on home security cameras.

Neumman, a Chicago mail-order cosmetics heir, has a collection of art ranging from Picasso, Miró, and Matisse to Warhol and Koons, which he began collecting 50 years ago with his late father Morton.

Neumman was and is prolific, befriending artists including Basquiat before they found fame, still buying up-and-coming artists, and building a collection that he sees as his legacy.

But he’s embroiled in a legal fight over the future of the artwork, brought by Belinda, the second of his three daughters.

 

Hubert Neumann

Neumann, then 86, was led away by cops in handcuffs.

She is attempting to get him thrown out of two trusts he oversees.

Hubert fears that if she succeeds, she could sell most or all the art collected over five decades.

In 2021, The Post revealed the family was fighting over a George Herms sculpture – after previously falling out over Basquiats.

Now we can reveal the full ugly extent of the battle, with Hubert’s arrest being matched by accusations that he was a wife-beater.

 

Hubert Neumann

Neumann, in front of a Warhol painting of Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, and Tony Curtis, at his NYC home.
EMMY PARK

This was alleged during a court fight over Hubert’s ex-wife Dolores’ will. Neumann claimed it was secretly changed before her death to give Belinda 80 percent of the estate, and the other two daughters the remaining 20 percent.

A court recently ruled that Dolores was in sound mind when she made the amendment.

With a slew of ongoing court cases about the two trusts that Hubert oversees, a spokesperson for Belinda and Jeffrey told The Post: “Hubert’s physical abuse of Dolores is just one element of his 40-plus years of fraud and criminality which, as alleged and will be proven in ongoing litigations.”

Neumann has denied all allegations of wife-beating; the claims have not been ruled on by a court.

The spokesperson for the Donnellys highlighted a head-spinning slew of allegations made in court.

They include that Neumann “fraudulently altered” a co-op stock certificate to steal Dolores’s 50 percent ownership of a jointly-owned apartment, “falsely claiming” that he is the sole owner of more than $100 million of art “which he in fact co-owned with Dolores and/or his daughters”, “fraudulently siphoning” off millions of dollars from his daughters’ trusts to pay 50 percent of his and his girlfriend’s lavish lifestyle…” and stealing Belinda’s stock in a family corporation which owns hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art.”

 

Hubert Neumann, Melissa Neumann, Belinda Neumann-Donnelly

Neumann, his youngest daughter Melissa, and middle daughter Belinda Neumann-Donnelly, who has brought multiple legal suits against him.
OWEN HOFFMANN /PatrickMcMullan.com
 

Hubert Neumann, Belinda Neumann-Donnelly

Neumann and his daughter Belinda were seen together in public at a Picasso show at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC in February 2011.
OWEN HOFFMANN /PatrickMcMullan.com

In response, Jay Itkowitz, attorney for Hubert, said the Donnellys were “throwing dirt”, adding: “The subject here is why daughter Belinda and her husband Jeffrey Donnelly would cause an 86-year old father and grandfather to be arrested a few days before Christmas 2018 because of an alleged ‘shoulder check’ by Hubert Neumann, as stated on Jeffrey Donnelly’s police report. As a result, Mr. Neumann was kept overnight, and he had to sleep on a concrete floor for his own safety in an NYC jail.”

Hubert said Belinda, 56, her husband Jeffrey, 55, and their three children moved into Hubert’s home back in September 2012, ostensibly to care for him in his old age – and paid no rent.

To this, they claim he asked them to move in.

 

Hubert Neumann.

Neumann was accused of beating his former wife Dolores, which he has denied.
EMMY PARK

But he fell out with Belinda when he asked her to share her mother’s estate equally with her sisters.

Hubert started eviction proceedings against the Donnellys in May 2018.

They were set to be thrown out that same month, but two days before the eviction date, Belinda and Jeffrey got a temporary order of protection (TOP) against him in family court, accusing him of threatening them with physical harm.

They also sued Hubert in the supreme court for financial damages, seeking to remain in the house.

And this was just the start.

On May 25, 2018, the Donnellys called the police, claiming that Hubert had violated the order.

The police visited, and questioned Hubert, but no arrest was made.

 

Jean-Michel Basquiat

A painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the artist’s work that Neumann owns. Neumann befriended Basquiat before he was famous, making his collection an important repository for knowledge about the artist.
EMMY PARK

On May 29, 2018, Belinda and Jeffrey’s lawyer filed a second restraining order, requiring Hubert and his live-in partner Debra Purden, a writer and curator, to stay only on the fourth and fifth floors of the house, and lock elevator doors to the second and third floors, which kept him from gaining access to his art collection and valuable documents. (The family court later required the locks to be removed from those two doors for safety reasons).

The Donellys also called the police on Hubert on two more occasions, on June 11 and September 21, 2018, claiming Hubert violated the TOP.

But things really escalated on December 22, 2018, when Jeffrey called 911 — in a call heard by The Post — and claimed Hubert had shoved him.

Later, in his hand-written police report the night of the arrest, Jeffrey said: “[Hubert] was passing [Jeffrey] on the staircase and shoulder checked [Jeffrey] into the door causing [Jeffrey] to fear for the safety of his family.”

 

Roy Lichtenstein

Neumman fears that if his estranged daughter gains control of the trust, a collection gathered over decades and two generations, and meant to be seen in its entirety, would be torn asunder.
EMMY PARK

Recalling the day, Hubert said he arrived home to see Jeffrey sitting amid boxes in the entry hall to the house.

Hubert walked past Jeffrey on the stairs and peeked into the dining room on the second floor.

Jeffrey then allegedly slammed the doors before Hubert could see into the room.

This was caught by a video camera that Jeffrey had set up without Hubert’s knowledge.

On the tape, obtained by The Post from public records, Hubert is heard saying “You pushed me.”

 

Andy Warhol

One of Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s tomato soup can paintings is on the wall at the house. Neumann built his collection on “gut” over 50 years, making it a tour de horizon like few others.

Hubert then went up to his bedroom on the fifth floor, where at 6 pm, police knocked on his door.

“The police said, ‘Will you please dress up because it’s cold’, and so I had to change and put on a coat and hat. Basically, I got the impression that the police were reluctant to arrest me. So they put handcuffs on me, for the first time in my life, and it hurt — it hurt.

“I walked past Jeffrey who was sitting there, no expression on his face as he looked at me in handcuffs, and I walked into a paddy wagon. I couldn’t even believe it was happening.”

 

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons’ “Amore” sculpture takes pride of place in the Neumann house. Koons is a friend of Neumann, which has informed his collecting.
EMMY PARK

It was then that cops told him he had violated the protection order.

Hubert was taken to a precinct near his home where he said he was “freezing cold and disoriented.”

“You lose all your sense of privacy,” he said: “So I say, ‘I have to go to the bathroom’, I get walked out, and the guy’s looking at me going to the bathroom. And it’s humiliating.

“I was frightened. I heard scratching that I feared was rats. I heard screaming from inmates in other cells. I was very frightened.

“You say how do I feel? I feel I’ve lost my privacy. I can’t even believe it.” He was fingerprinted and interviewed, “then I had to go to sleep, and there’s a stainless steel bench. I said, ‘I’m not sleeping on that, I’ll fall off and break a hip or something’. So I lay down on the floor. A cement, cold floor.

 

Jeffrey Donnelly, Hubert Neumann

Donnelly sits by as Neumann is led away in handcuffs.

“It took me a long time to get to sleep, finally there’s a cop in the cell and he taps me. and says, “I’m just checking you’re still alive’.”

Debra and Melissa soon arrived at the precinct with pizza and a dressing gown for Hubert but were banned from seeing him.

Melissa, a noted art collector herself, said: “I was just worried for his safety.”

He burst into tears when he eventually saw Melissa and Debra the next morning at the criminal court downtown after he was booked.

 

Hubert Neumann, Melissa Neumann

Neuman and his daughter Melissa Neumann want to preserve the family’s artwork for generations to come – not sell it off. Among the works they seek not to lose is a Miró.
EMMY PARK

But, on February 6, 2019, Jeffrey withdrew his family court complaint without giving Hubert the chance to present evidence that the case was false, and on July 15, 2019, the Manhattan DA’s office announced they would not prosecute and the matter was dismissed.

Hubert allowed the matter to be unsealed.

In April 2019 the NY Appellate division denied the Donnellys’ bid to appeal the eviction, and they were ordered to move out by May 15, 2019, and pay back $24,282.57 in rent.

They now live in midtown.

 

Hubert Neumann

Neumann says he still loves his daughter, Belinda, despite everything.
EMMY PARK

For Hubert, the hurt remains.

After his arrest, he was delayed twice by customs while coming back into the country as his record was still tagged with his arrest.

Yet he repeatedly told The Post: “I still love my three daughters, including Belinda. I just want peace and love in my family.”

 

Hubert Neumann

Neumann was forced to sleep on the cold cell floor after his arrest in December 2018. He was reunited with his daughter and his partner after leaving central booking.
EMMY PARK
 

Melissa Neumann, Hubert Neumann.

Melissa Neumann said she is hurt by all the family in-fighting, especially by losing her relationship with her older sister. “It’s going to be very hard to repair a family like this,” she said.
EMMY PARK

Melissa, who is set to take over as a trustee in the event of her dad’s death, said: “In my capacity as a trustee I want to be objective as I can, on a personal level I think it’s going to be very hard to repair a family like this.

“This all didn’t have to happen this way, the reading of my mother’s will definitely changed my life trajectory and my sister’s trajectory.

“She is my older sister and had always been somebody I looked up to and we helped each other, the personal part is what I think hurts the most for me.”

 

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Home + Away artwork opens in Vancouver’s Hastings Park

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A new art installation now towers over Vancouver’s Hastings Park fields in celebration of the city’s history of spectators and sports.

Home + Away is a sculpture by Seattle artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio, which opened Monday in the southeast end of the historic park.

It’s a 17-metre-tall structure that resembles a narrow set of bleachers — similar to the stands of the Empire Stadium, which stood on the site of the park from 1954 to 1993 and hosted The Beatles, among many others. It recalls a covered ski jump that stood there in the 1950s and the nearby wooden rollercoaster at the PNE.

The city says the public is invited to walk the stairs and sit on the benches.

“In addition to being visually striking, this artwork is intended to be ascended, sat on and experienced. It offers exciting experiences of height and views and provides 16 rows of seating for up to 49 people, making for a unique spectator experience when watching events at Empire Fields,” the city said in a release Monday.

The idea for the park to include public art was outlined in the Hastings Park “Master Plan,” first adopted by the city in 2010. The city says Han and Mihalyo first presented their design in 2015.

“It’s wonderful to see this piece realized within the context of such a well-used public space,” said Han.

Home + Away was inspired directly by the site history of spectatorship, and we hope it will connect Hastings Park users to that history and the majestic views of the environment for many decades to come,” added Mihalyo.

The artwork features a large light-up sign, in the style of a sports scoreboard, that reads “HOME” and “AWAY.”

 

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Bill Viola, Video Artist Who Established the Medium as an Integral Part of Contemporary Art, Dies at 73

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Bill Viola, whose decades-long engagement with video proved vital in establishing the medium as an integral part of contemporary art, died on July 12 at his home in Long Beach, California. He was at 73 years old. The cause was complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. The news of his passing was confirmed by James Cohan Gallery.

Viola’s works are centered around the idea of human consciousness and such fundamental experiences as birth, death, and spirituality. He delved into mystical traditions from Zen Buddhism to Islamic Sufism, as well as Western devotional art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in his videos, which often juxtaposed themes of life and death, light and dark, noise and silence. These explorations were achieved by submerging viewers in both image and sound with cutting-edge technologies for their time.

“I first used the camera and lens as a surrogate eye, to bring things closer, or to magnify them, to experiment with perception, to extend vision and make lengthy observations of simple objects,” Viola said in a 2015 interview. “Once you do that, their essence becomes visible. So I suppose I was always interested in the inner life of the world around me.”

Beginning in the 1970s, Viola created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast—all of which expanded the scope of the medium and established Viola as one of its most notable practitioner.

Video still of a man diving into water that has been reversed. The image is mostly black and teal.

In 2003 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris jointly acquired Bill Viola’s 2001 three-channel video installation Five Angels for the Millennium.

Photo Kira Perov/©Bill Viola Studio

Bill Viola was born in 1951. He grew up in Queens and Westbury, New York, and attended P.S. 20 in Flushing, before receiving his BFA in experimental studios from Syracuse University in 1973. There, he studied with visual art with the likes of Jack Nelson and electronic music with Franklin Morris.

Following his graduation, between 1973 to 1980, Viola studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the music group Rainforest, which later became known as Composers Inside Electronics. He also worked as technical director at the pioneering video studio Art/tapes/22 in Florence, Italy from 1974 to 1976. During that time he encountered the work of other seminal video artists like Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Vito Acconci.

Viola was subsequently an artist-in-residence at New York’s WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory between 1976 to 1983, wherein he created a series of works that premiered on television. He traveled to the Solomon Islands, Java, and Indonesia to record traditional performing arts between 1976 and 1977. Later that year, Viola was invited to show work at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, by cultural arts director Kira Perov, with whom he married and began a lifelong collaboration.

He was appointed an instructor in advanced video at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 1983. He was the Getty Research Institute scholar-in-residence in Los Angeles in 1998 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

In 1985, Viola received with a Guggenheim Fellowship for fine arts, and later that decade, in 1989, he was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. His work was also featured in some of the world’s most notable exhibitions, including Documenta VI in 1977, Documenta XI in 1992, the 1987 and 1993 editions of the Whitney Biennial, and the 2001 Venice Biennale.

In 1995, he represented the United States at the 46th edition of the Venice Biennale. For the pavilion, Viola produced the series of works “Buried Secrets,” including one of his most known works The Greeting, which offers a contemporary interpretation of Pontormo’s oil painting The Visitation (ca.1528–30). The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and New York’s Guggenheim Museum commissioned the digital fresco cycle in high-definition video, titled Going Forth By Day, in 2002.

Viola’s work was the subject of a major 25-year survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997, which subsequently toured internationally. His work has been the subject of major museum retrospectives in the years since, including at the Grand Palais in Paris (in 2014), the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (2017), the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain (2017), and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (2019), as well as an exhibition pairing his work with that of Michelangelo at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2019.

Viola is survived by his wife Kira Perov, who has been the executive director of his studio since 1978, and their two children.

“One thing that’s very exciting about video that has turned me on since I first saw this glowing image way back in 1970 is that it can be so much,” Viola said in a 1995 with Charlie Rose on the occasion of this US Pavilion at the Biennale. “Furthermore, what’s really exciting is I don’t think it’s been since really the Renaissance where artists have been able to use a medium that one could say is the dominant communication form in society.”

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Couple’s winning art projects adorn overpass

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Annabelle Harvey and Corbin Elliot are partners: in life, love, and art. Thanks to their creative pursuits, now they are also joined in the recognition of their work along the Lakeshore overpass.

The City of North Bay, in collaboration with the Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC), recently held an event to acknowledge the successful applicants for the Lakeshore Drive overpass banner project. This initiative features 14 artworks created by local artists, highlighting the ongoing commitment to bringing public art to the community and celebrating local talent. The banners were installed early last week.

On behalf of PAAC, Katie Bevan noted that 71 submissions were received for the banner art project. “Selecting just 14 artworks from such outstanding submissions was no small feat. It truly highlights the incredible creativity within our community — and it’s only growing.”

Bevan acknowledged all who submitted their work and congratulated the 14 winners:

  • Caitlin Daniel
  • Corbin Elliot
  • Adam Fielder
  • Ian Gauthier
  • Ruby Grant
  • Annabelle Harvey
  • Penny Heather
  • Robert Johannsen
  • Robyn Jones
  • Gerry McComb
  • Victoria Primeau
  • Tessa Shank
  • Rana Thomas
  • Claudia Torres

“This is the first time I’ve participated in something city-wide, and I’ve been really interested in getting more involved in the art community,” said Harvey, a teacher by vocation when not helping to beautify North Bay. “I’ve worked a lot with the WKP Kennedy Gallery and I’ve been putting in submissions for some of their group shows. So, this is a cool opportunity to try something new. This is the first time I have done digital work. Usually, I like painting and collage. So I was interested just to try something new.”

In September 2023, public art gained more prominence in North Bay as 12 pieces by eight local artists selected by the Public Art Advisory Committee were placed on aluminum panels mounted onto the public buildings in both Champlain and Sunset parks.

Harvey’s partner Elliot is an emerging artist and a Fine Arts graduate from Nipissing University who says his passion for bringing his vision to life has only grown, thanks, in part, to these public art initiatives.

“There is so much opportunity to have a lot of different public art in different spaces,” he says. “So, when I saw that there was a variety of different artists and voices being accepted, of course, I wanted to have my vision out there in the city, to make my mark and be a part of that kind of trajectory of building the art scene within the city.”

The couple share a studio space, often working on separate projects at the same time while collaborating with encouragement and ideas.

“We are working on different mediums, a lot of the time,” Elliot said. “We have our own corners set up in the studio and I’ll usually be on my easel and Annabelle will be doing something…”

Harvey picked up his thought, “I’m usually at my desk doing pottery, jewellery, collage — I do a lot of different things.”

2024-07-12-lakeshore-overpass-banner-art-elliot-harvey-2-campaigne
Couple Annabelle Harvey and Corbin Elliot each earned a spot among the 14 winning banner art projects. Stu Campaigne/BayToday

For Harvey, working so closely together is her “favourite part, especially watching his creative process.”

Elliot added, “I think I’m more non-verbal as I’m creating. I often hear you saying, ‘Oh, I think I like this.'”

Both have active Instagram pages featuring their artwork, Harvey’s can be found here, and Elliot’s here.

Elliot has a show at the WKP Kennedy Gallery, entitled “Upon a Star,” opening Sept. 13. “I’ll have my own solo exhibition. I typically work in painting. I have a big body of work with paintings,” he said.

The City of North Bay and PAAC encourage everyone to take a moment to appreciate these works of art when passing by the overpass.

Harvey and Elliot are thrilled about the banner art project.

“It’s like seeing your vision come to life. We’ve had lots of friends, even before we saw them today say excitedly, ‘I saw your work on the overpass,’ it’s just a proud moment to have so many eyes on our work.”

 

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