Multimillionaire art dealer Frank Lloyd, who was at the heart of one of the great scandals of the modern art world -- the "wrongful" and "shocking" mismanagement of the Mark Rothko estate -- today gave himself up to face additional charges on that case after eluding authorities for four years. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was freed on $1 million bail.
Lloyd is the head of the prestigious, international Marlborough Galleries, which counted among its clientele the Vatican and the British royal family. Now 70 and still an active dealer, he had been indicted in 1977 on two counts of tampering with the evidence during his trial two years earlier. Lloyd, who maintains homes in Paris and the Bahamas, had not returned to the United States since.
"I only collect money, I don't collect pictures," Lloyd, a controversial and hugely successful member of the art community, once said. A self-made man, a refugee from Hitler, he had often outraged art patrons with his forthright philosophy of art as business. Under criticism, he once parried with a feisty ad: "Unlimited cash available for works of art."
It was ultimately the financial aspect of the art world which got Lloyd into trouble. In 1975, with three others, he was found guilty of "improvidence and waste" in the handling of the estate of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, a suicide. During a complex trial, initiated by Rothko's daughter, it was learned that the three executors of Rothko's estate had sold 798 paintings to Lloyd's Marlborough Galleries for prices far below their market value. In one instance, according to court evidence, Marlborough bought 100 paintings from the estate at a price of $1.8 million, an average of $18,000 a painting, at a time when Rothkos were selling for between $40,000 and $60,000. The gallery, moreover, paid only $200,000 down for those 100 paintings with the remainder to be paid over 12 years, with no interest. With the sale of one painting alone for $180,000, Lloyd nearly realized his initial investment. The gallery was ultimately fined $9,252,000, which has been paid to the estate, according to a source close to Lloyd. ("He just considered it a business arrangement that went sour," the source said.)
In 1977, however, two years after that judgment, Lloyd, a British citizen, was indicted on two counts of tampering with a stock book in which his gallery recorded the history of each painting and which was used as evidence during the earlier trial. A class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, the charge was not considered an "extraditable offense" by the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Lloyd, with his wife, Susan, and their two children, continued to live abroad.
Today, a balding, white-haired man with a slight stoop and a Viennese accent, Lloyd gave himself up in state Supreme Court. He was accompanied by Washington attorney Irving Younger, of the Washington firm of Williams and Connolly, and a New York attorney. A French attorney, the Lloyd family attorney in Paris, sat with Lloyd's wife, a blond woman in a full-length fur. Lloyd made no statement to the judge, Justice Peter J. McQuillen, and had no comment to reporters. Younger, speaking for his client, said Lloyd had made the decision to come to the United States and face charges because of his two children.
"He knows the charges are baseless but his situation is that he does have young children with his second wife and he did not want to leave his children with the idea that their father was afraid to face an accusation." A trial date has not yet been set.