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Lawsuit filed in bitter family fight over Frank Frazetta artwork

"Death Dealer," by Frank Frazetta

"Death Dealer," by Frank Frazetta

In another twist in the growing family feud, three children of famed fantasy and comic artist Frank Frazetta have sued their brother to prevent him from selling or reproducing their father’s artwork and claiming to be his authorized representative.

In the lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Frazetta Properties — now managed by siblings Heidi Grabin, Holly Frazetta Taylor and William Frazetta — accuses Alfonso Frank Frazetta of using his Frazetta Art Gallery website to sell lithographs, books, clothing, jewelry, statues, “so-called Masters Collection” reproductions and other items in violation Frank Frazetta’s trademarks and copyrights.

Alfonso, known as Frank Frazetta Jr., is the son arrested in December after he allegedly used a backhoe to break into his father’s museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to steal 90 paintings worth about $20 million. He’s charged with burglary, criminal trespass and theft.

The incident cast a spotlight on a family fight that reportedly began in July 2009 after the death of Frank Sr.’s wife Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta, who had long run her husband’s business.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for trademark and copyright infringement, counterfeiting, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and false designation of origin.

In addition to the copyright claims, Frazetta Properties asserts that Frank Jr. is using the trademarked “stylized Frazetta signature” without authorization. It’s noted that while the website offers a service allowing customers to have items signed by the 81-year-old Frazetta for $250, “Mr. Frazetta has not signed any such items for customers since at least July of 2009.”

Frank Jr. also is accused of making unauthorized commercial use of the Death Dealer, and misrepresenting himself as the “authorized representative” of Frank Sr. when a life-size statue of the character was commissioned and erected in September 2009 at Ft. Hood, Texas.

The lawsuit also disputes the authenticity of an agreement that Frank Jr. allegedly made in 2000 with his father and mother that supposedly granted him the authority to represent Frazetta Properties.

But even if the agreement were valid, the plaintiffs allege, it was breached because Frank Sr. hasn’t been paid royalties on any of the sales since July 2009. Further, a Jan. 28, 2010, cease-and-desist letter notified Frank Jr. that he isn’t authorized to sell or license Frank Frazetta original art, prints or related merchandise.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

PlayStation Digital Comics

PlayStation Digital Comics

Digital comics | Sony launched its much-anticipated PlayStation Digital Comics service on Wednesday with hundreds of titles from such publishers 2000 AD, Archie, Disney, IDW Publishing and Marvel. Several titles, including Atomic Robo #1, G.I. Joe #0 and Young Salem #1, are being offered for free download to PlayStation Portables. [PlayStation Blog, Kotaku]

Crime | More details emerged Wednesday in the family feud that led to the arrest last week of Alfonso Frank Frazetta Jr. on charges of stealing 90 of his father’s paintings from the Frank Frazetta Museum near East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. A notary supported Frank Jr.’s claim that his 81-year-old father had authorized him, in a signed document, to secure the paintings “by any means possible.” The notary also said she revoked the power of attorney held by Frazetta Sr.’s other three children Bill Frazetta, Holly Taylor and Heidi Gravin. A judge reduced Frank. Jr.’s bail from $500,000 to $50,000. Meanwhile, Frazetta Sr.’s art collection, valued at $20 million, has been removed from the museum by Bill Frazetta, who says, “They’re not going to be displayed back here in the Poconos after this.” [Pocono Record]

Crime | Closing arguments are expected to be delivered today in the trial of Jevon Sawyer, the 19-year-old accused of shooting retailer David Pirkola during the April 2008 robbery of Apparitions Comics and Books in Kentwood, Michigan. Pirkola, 58, spent weeks in a hospital and still hasn’t fully recovered from his injuries. [The Grand Rapids Press]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Painting by Frank Frazetta

Painting by Frank Frazetta

Crime | A Pennsylvania newspaper delves into the family feud over the fortune of legendary artist Frank Frazetta that led to the arrest last week of son Alfonso (Frank Jr.) in the theft of $20 million worth of paintings from his father’s museum in East Stroudsburg. Frank Jr.’s wife Lori claims he was only trying to protect the paintings from his brother and two sisters, whom she accused of attempting to take their father’s fortune: “My husband, all he ever wanted to do was to take care of his family.”

Frank Jr. was jailed under $500,000 bail on charges of burglary, criminal trespassing and theft. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.

The family dispute apparently began after the death in July of Frank Sr.’s wife Ellie, who had long run the business. The 81-year-old Frazetta, who suffers from dementia, lives in Florida with his daughters. [Pocono Record, Pocono Record]

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Frazetta’s son charged in attempt to steal $20M worth of father’s paintings [Updated]

Alfonso Frank Frazetta

Alfonso Frank Frazetta

Pennsylvania police have arrested a son of renowned artist Frank Frazetta after they say he used a backhoe Wednesday afternoon to break into his father’s museum in an attempt to steal $20 million worth of paintings.

Alfonso Frank Frazetta, 52, was charged with theft, burglary and trespass after he allegedly was caught loading the artwork into his trailer and SUV. Police responded to a burglar alarm at the East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, museum, where Frazetta reportedly told the trooper he had been instructed by his father “to enter the museum by any means necessary to move all the paintings to a storage facility.”

Frazetta is in the Monroe County jail on $500,000 bail. Charges are pending against a second man.

The elder Frazetta, 81, was in Florida at the time of the incident.

Update (6 a.m. PST Friday): The Allentown Morning Call has more details, including the name of the other suspect.


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