In re Estate of Rauschenberg
Florida Circuit Court
Case No.: 08-CP-2479 (2014)
Robert Rauschenberg, a prolific artist and philanthropist, established the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (plaintiff) to continue his philanthropic goals after his death. Rauschenberg’s will devised his residuary estate to his revocable trust. After the distribution of several specific gifts, the trust’s remaining assets were to be disbursed to the foundation. At Rauschenberg’s death in 2008, his residuary estate, which was valued at more than $600 million, consisted primarily of real estate and artwork, was disbursed to the trust. The trustees, Darryl Pottorf, Bennett Grutman, and Bill Goldston (the trustees) (defendants) used their art and business expertise to administer the trust. The trustees strategically withdrew Rauschenberg’s art from the market to preserve its value; interviewed appraisers; arranged to secure, maintain, and preserve the property; and handled litigation of several issues. The trustees subsequently reintroduced Rauschenberg’s art to the market, resulting in an increase in its value. By the time the trustees distributed the trust assets to the foundation in 2012, the trust was valued at more than $2 billion. The terms of the trust provided that the trustees were entitled to a reasonable fee for their services, and the trustees had been paid approximately $8 million during the trust administration. The foundation filed a petition to determine the trustees’ fees, arguing that the trustees were entitled to a total of $375,000. The trustees argued that they were entitled to fees totaling between $51 million and $55 million. Expert witnesses testified that this was a unique situation, that they were unaware of anyone who had administered a similarly complex trust, and that local institutional trustees charged one to two percent of the value of a trust’s assets per year.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rosman, J.)
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