Sued art dealers return Gee's Bend quilts

The Baltimore Sun

The Atlanta art dealers accused in a lawsuit of taking and not returning three heirloom quilts from a woman in Gee's Bend, Ala., have handed the quilts over to her attorney.

After calling a news conference late Wednesday to dispute the charges, attorneys for art dealer William Arnett and his son Matt delivered the quilts to the Birmingham law office of Peter Burke. He represents Lucinda Pettway Franklin, one of the three plaintiffs in the dispute; she says the Arnetts took and held her quilts for two years.

She filed suit last week after becoming alarmed by newspaper accounts suggesting that the Arnetts had cheated other Gee's Bend quilters out of the proceeds from sales of their quilts and royalties from licensing agreements based on their designs.

At the news conference, Arnett attorneys Greg Hawley and Gary Coulter said Matt Arnett had agreed to return the quilts before Franklin's lawsuit was filed.

They also produced documents that they said showed the quilts are 50 to 60 years old, not 100 years old, as Franklin claimed, and that their value does not exceed $450.

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