Oh brother, where art my Andy Warhol print?

"Moonwalk" print by Andy Warhol
"Moonwalk" print by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol | Courtesy of NASA on The Commons via Flickr

Artist Andy Warhol is credited with saying that everyone in the future would be famous for 15 minutes. Two Twin Cities brothers now in a battle over the fate of a pair of famous Warhol prints may prove him right.

They’re in a legal spat over who is entitled to the proceeds from the sale of the pricey Warhol prints, which together brought in $200,000 but could have been worth more.

Keith Donaldson sued his brother, Robert, on Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court over what he said was an unauthorized sale of a “Moonwalk” print.

Both brothers had owned a copy of the prints — among 160 sets made — since 1999. But only Robert had a proper location to display them, according to the lawsuit, so Keith let his brother hold onto the pair.

The civil court papers say last year Keith asked for his back, only to learn that Robert had sold the set two years earlier for $200,000. He netted $180,000 after commission.

Keith said his painting had a fair market value of at least $140,000 on its own. He asked for either the painting or money in return. When Robert refused, he sued.

“Robert intentionally and improperly converted to his own use Keith’s art by selling it and intentionally and improperly converted to Robert’s own use of the proceeds of the sale of Keith’s art,” Keith Donaldson’s attorney wrote in the lawsuit, adding, “Robert’s conversion of Keith’s art and the proceeds of the sale of Keith’s art have damaged Keith.”

According to Sotheby’s, the prints have become particularly popular this year, the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk. They were created in 1987 and are among Warhol’s last works before his death.

“Warhol combined two separate photographs of Buzz Aldrin and the American flag, both NASA stills taken by Neil Armstrong, to create the screen print,” the auction house wrote in April. “The resulting composition is an iconic element of Warhol’s printmaking that illustrates not only the lasting impact of the moon landing but also the artist’s own profound effect on American visual culture.”

Minneapolis-based attorneys for Keith Donaldson and Robert Donaldson didn’t immediately return email or voicemail messages about the lawsuit.

According to the filing, the brothers have had other joint art properties in the past.

No hearing date in the case has been set.

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