Secretary of State Seward’s Heir Fights to block Sale of Artwork

A fight is brewing between the Seward House Historic Museum and Ray Messenger, great-great-grandson of William Seward.  William Seward served as Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, as well as Governor of the State of New York, before retiring to his mansion in upstate New York.

During Seward’s life he accumulated thousands of items, including books, furniture and artwork.  One of the pieces, Thomas Cole’s Portage Falls on the Genesee, is a seven by five foot painting given to then Governor Seward which has been a centerpiece of the home for over 150 years.  The painting appraised in 2007 at over $20 million, five times the combined value of the rest of the Seward Estate.

The Seward House Historic Museum controls the estate and wants to sell the artifact claiming the Museum is simply not equipped to house such a priceless piece of art.  However, the Seward heirs believe the painting is the centerpiece of the house and is a symbol of William Seward’s great work.  Messenger is set to take the matter to Court in hopes they will allow him to be Appointed as administrator and block the sale of the painting.

If you find yourself engaged in a family dispute involving estate and trusts matters, contact the experienced attorneys at Ford + Bergner LLP for assistance today.