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Gruen v. Gruen

Court of Appeals of New York
496 N.E.2d 869 (1986)


Facts

Victor Gruen sent a series of letters to his son, Michael (plaintiff), indicating his intention to give Michael gave a valuable painting for his 21st birthday. Victor did not deliver the painting but kept it in his multiple residences. The painting was to be given to Michael upon Victor’s death, with Victor holding a life estate in said painting. Michael acknowledged the gift to his friends and associates and that he both letters for over 17 years to verify the gift after his father's death. Upon Victor’s death, Victor’s wife and Michael’s stepmother, Ms. Gruen (defendant), refused to give Michael the painting. Michael then brought this action. The special term court determined that by retaining a life estate in the painting, Victor invalidated the gift. Michael then appealed, with the Appellate Division finding that a gift is valid even if a life estate is retained in said gift. Ms. Gruen then petitioned for certiorari to the Court of Appeals of New York.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Simons, J.)

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