ALLENTOWN, Pa. – ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The adult children of pioneering fantasy artist Frank Frazetta have resolved an ugly dispute over control of their elderly father's body of work.
The family feud boiled over in December when Frazetta's son, Frank Frazetta Jr., was caught using a backhoe to break into the artist's museum in the Poconos. Police say he tried to remove 90 paintings insured for $20 million. Frazetta Jr. insisted he was attempting to safeguard the art from his scheming siblings.
Frazetta, 82, is renowned for his sci-fi and fantasy art, creating covers and illustrations for more than 150 books and comic books as well as album covers, movie posters and original paintings. His work on iconic characters including Conan the Barbarian and Tarzan influenced generations of artists.
His children have been tussling over an estate estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, filing dueling lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Florida. They resolved their differences following two days of mediation in Scranton, according to a statement issued by the family Friday.
"Frank Frazetta is pleased to announce that all of the litigation surrounding his family and his art has been resolved. All of Frank's children will now be working together as a team to promote his remarkable collection of images that has inspired people for decades," the statement said.
Three siblings of Frank Frazetta Jr. filed a lawsuit in Scranton last month, claiming he misappropriated their father's name and art for commercial gain. The suit said Frazetta Jr. had no right to market or sell his father's work because the artist transferred it to a company controlled by his other children — Billy Frazetta, Holly Frazetta Taylor and Heidi Grabin.
Frazetta Jr. countersued in Lee County, Fla., last week, alleging his brother and sisters plotted to take control of the family business and fortune after the July 2009 death of their mother, slandered him to their father, and tried to shut him out.
It was their "grand scheme ... to take over the Frazetta business, close the museum (and sell off the art), and leave Frank Jr. with nothing," the Florida suit said.
Diana Fitzgerald, Frank Frazetta Jr.'s civil attorney, said the family is ready to work together.
"Everybody got their happy ending; the whole family did," she said, adding her client is "a valuable asset to his father's legacy. Now that everyone's in agreement, we're really looking forward to the future. He's obviously excited to have Frank Sr. back in his life."
The family no longer wants to press theft and burglary charges against Frazetta Jr. for the December break-in, though a final decision is up to Monroe County prosecutors. District Attorney David Christine did not immediately return a phone message Friday.
Frazetta Jr.'s criminal attorney, James Swetz, said he's in talks with prosecutors about dropping the case.
"I am confident they will understand and appreciate what the family has gone through, and recognize how the family has decided to put whatever disputes they had behind them as a result of this mediation, and act accordingly," he said.