According to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norman Rockwell artwork was stolen and hidden in the White House.
An unlikely custody battle has broken out over a stash of Norman Rockwell art allegedly stolen and hidden for decades—in the White House.
In 1943, Rockwell created several sketches and watercolors chronicling a typical day in the White House’s executive wing, depicting everyone from senators to soldiers sitting on red sofas and chairs as they waited to meet President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The resulting montage, “So You Want to See the President,” ran in the Nov. 13, 1943, issue of “The Saturday Evening Post.”
Rockwell gave the four original works on paper from that assignment to FDR’s longtime press secretary, Stephen Early, who thanked the artist in a letter. “I am as proud of these original sketches of yours as Churchill was of the R.A.F.,” Mr. Early wrote, referring to England’s Royal Air Force.
Now, Mr. Early’s descendants are embroiled in a dramatic dispute worthy of “The West Wing” over what happened next, with relatives slinging accusations of theft and fraud against the backdrop of a White House art collection rarely seen by the public. No one at the White House is implicated in any wrongdoing.
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Heirs of Mr. Early’s two sons are alleging that their late sister, Helen Early Elam, reneged on a pledge to hang onto the Rockwells as part of their shared inheritance after their father died in 1951 and their mother followed in 1978, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to the company and the Federal Aviation Administration, a former White House official, Dana Hyde, was killed after a business jet hit turbulence.
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