Artwork at center of dispute between Jim Palmer, ex-wife


In what has become a bitter divorce case, lawyers for Jim Palmer and his former wife were in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday to argue over the amount the ex-Orioles pitcher should pay her for three pieces of the couple's art collection.

The pieces, purchased during Palmer's 10-year marriage to Joan H. Palmer, were supposed to be sold at auction in November with 36 paintings, sculptures and other decorative furnishings, with the proceeds to be split between them.

Most of the art was sold for $32,000 at the sale, organized by a trustee appointed after Joan Palmer was granted a divorce May 17, 2000.

But Joan Palmer's attorney, Geoffrey H. Genth, told county Circuit Judge Susan M. Souder yesterday that three pieces of art, worth $4,325, were missing from the auction inventory.

The pieces - a vase, a bronze sculpture of a jockey on a horse and a wooden turning bowl - were in Jim Palmer's Florida condominium, but never arrived in Baltimore for the auction, Genth said.

"This is the end of a long and very disputed divorce," Genth told Souder.

Former county Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr. ordered the Palmers in April of last year to divide the art among themselves or turn it over to a trustee for sale. Smith also specified Palmer or his former wife would have to pay the other person the full value of any piece they failed to turn over for the sale, Genth said.

But Palmer's attorney argued that Joan Palmer is entitled only to the $2,485 placed in escrow by the trustee, attorney Robert E. Carney Jr., after the auction proceeds were divided.

Julie Ellen Landau, Palmer's lawyer, told Souder that Joan Palmer has received more than her former husband. Carney paid Joan Palmer $12,090 from the auction and paid Palmer $9,632, holding back from him the escrowed monies, Landau said. The balance was used to pay auction expenses.

If Joan Palmer accepts the $2,485 in escrow, her share of $14,575 will more than cover the lost pieces, Landau said.

"The simple fact is that she is more than compensated for the full value of the items not delivered," Landau said.

Souder did not rule in the case yesterday.

Palmer did not attend yesterday's hearing but said afterward that he had hoped to resolve the dispute out of court.

"Why would you want to waste a Baltimore County judge's time over something like this?" he asked.

Joan Palmer said that she would have preferred to avoid a court hearing but feels strongly about her position.

"All I ask is for him to do what the judge ordered," she said.

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