There was plenty of drama at the Marshalls Creek court office Wednesday. Alfonso Frank Frazetta, also known as Frank Jr., stood before District Judge Brian Germano to answer charges pertaining to his break-in at the Frazetta Museum. Germano, after hearing testimony, reduced Frazetta’s bail from a whopping $500,000 dollars to $50,000. Soon after the ruling, Frank Jr. was released on bail.
Some of the testimony the judge heard came from Adeline Bianco, a notary public. According to what Bianco informed Pocono Record reporters after the hearing, Frank Frazetta Sr., the legendary artist, came to her office on November 30, 2009. In a meeting that lasted nearly an hour, Frank Sr. signed a document authorizing Frank Jr. to secure the artist’s paintings by “by any means necessary,” according to Bianco. She notarized the document and returned it to Frank Sr. Apparently, acting upon Frank’s wishes, she also revoked the power-of-attorney which had been held by Frazetta’s other three children: Bill Frazetta, Holly Taylor and Heidi Gravin. The existence of the notarized document was reported here at The Cimmerian right after the news of the break-in hit the national media.
The existence of that notarized letter, which Frank Frazetta apparently mailed to his son, Frank Jr., may be critical in establishing Frank Jr.’s innocence. If Frank Jr. believed that he was acting according to his father’s wishes, then there was no criminal intent. It appears possible that the existence of the letter was what prompted the other three Frazetta siblings to begin making noises about possible extra-legal reconciliation with their brother.
Those three siblings have been in control of Frank Frazetta’s paintings since the death of Frank’s wife, Ellie Frazetta. After her death five months ago, Frank set up a limited liability company, transferred total control of all his artwork to it and named his children as beneficiaries. To put it bluntly, Frank Sr. no longer truly owns any of his work.
When the Frazetta LLC was created, all the children but Frank Jr. were appointed as directors. Why this occurred is unknown, since Frank Jr. was reportedly the only one of the siblings who devoted much time to the Frazetta Museum. Frank Jr. had also taken over the Frazetta art mail-order business from Ellie. As the LLC stands now, Frank Jr. has no say regarding the sale or other use of Frank Sr.’s artwork. However, he is still a beneficiary. That means Frank Jr. received one quarter of the profits entailed by the sale of “The Berserker” in November 2009. Some have theorized that the sale of that iconic painting was the motive behind Frank Sr. creating the notarized document referred to above.
Considering that Frank Jr. has already profited by the legal sale of Frank Sr.’s paintings, it is hard to see a criminal motivation behind his break-in. There is virtually no way (as he himself pointed out) that Frank Jr. could get better than a quarter million dollars for a painting on the black market. Trying to “steal” the paintings in broad daylight with a backhoe also seems a lot of work to go to when the other siblings are selling their father’s paintings and handing Frank Jr. his share. It seems even more unbelievable that Frank Jr would want to actually steal the paintings when, reportedly, he was the only member of the LLC who opposed the sale of the “Berserker” painting.
In closely-related news, all of the paintings from the Frazetta Museum have been moved to a “proper facility” outside the the Poconos and they are never coming back. According to Frank Sr.’s other son, Bill Frazetta, such a plan had been in the works for a while. I’m willing to bet that he and his sisters started cooking it up just as soon as their mother was in the ground. Bill revealed plans to start displaying the paintings all over the world, which would likely involve a small selection being presented at any one venue. This would make it harder for actual Frazetta fans to view over a hundred of Frank’s works in one place (as was the case with the Frazetta Museum), but I’m sure it would increase the market value of the paintings by giving them more exposure. That appears to be the main thing the three directors of the LLC are worried about.
From all indications, the Frazetta Museum was a labor of love on the part of Ellie Frazetta. In the documentary, Painting With Fire, her joy and pride in having such a place where Frank’s art could be on permanent display was obvious. Yet, Bill Frazetta is attempting to spin this abandonment of the Frazetta Museum as a long-discussed plan of the whole family. If such was the case, exactly what was the whole point in even building it? I doubt Frank Jr.’s siblings have a good answer for that.
When the news first hit about the Frazetta Museum “heist,” I questioned whether all was as it appeared. It seemed to me that Frank Jr. would have to be stark, raving mad (or an utter imbecile) to go about things in such a manner; that is, if he was trying to steal his father’s paintings and sell them on the black market, as opposed to trying to do what he claimed. When I learned from famed artist (and REH fan) Michael Wm. Kaluta about the notarized document right after the first news hit, that cast Frank Jr.’s actions in a whole new light.
If the three directors of the Frazetta LLC somehow come out on top in this struggle, don’t be surprised if within five years the Frazetta Museum is bulldozed and all of Frank’s greatest paintings are in the hands of private collectors, only rarely to be seen by Frank Frazetta’s legions of fans.