Gay Art Collector Fritz Lohman Dies
Fritz Lohman, a collector who, with his life partner Charles Leslie, co-founded an organization dedicated to reclaiming the place of queer art and artists in history, has died.
In a situation that underscores the inequities of relegating gay and lesbian families to a separate category and denying them marriage protections, Leslie, the sole benefactor of Lohman’s estate--valued at $10 million--is now faced with a $3 million tax bill. In an even crueler twist of fate, noted the New York Post in a Jan., 1 article, had Lohman died only 13 hours later than he did, Leslie would not have been his with the tax levy: an Congressional oversight has meant that there will be no estate tax for the heirs of wealthy Americans who die during 2010. Lohman died at around 11:00 in the morning on Dec. 31.
Erica Bell, the lawyer charged with Lohman’s estate, told the Post, "What a difference a day makes--literally," gong on to say, "The joke is, ’Throw momma from the train’" before 2011 arrives. "This is not good public policy," added Bell. "There’s something really wrong with a tax law that suggests when it’s good to die."
The Post article added that in another case, a New York family that stood to lose a fortune upon the death of their mother declined to "put her on aggressive, artificial life support, with tubes and medical devices, until January 1, thereby saving $3 million in federal estate taxes," according to an unnamed source. "The family chose the kinder path--letting her die naturally and peacefully."
In 2011, the estate tax will be back, and costlier than ever for those inheriting $1 million or over.
Leslie may need to sell some of the properties he and Lohman had purchased during their 48 years together, but he did not express bitterness. "You can’t second guess things like that," he told the press. "We do not happen to life--life happens to us."
Together, the couple created the New York-based Leslie Lohman Gay Art Foundation, which "is a public non-profit foundation established in 1990 to provide an outlet for art work that is unambiguously gay and which is frequently denied access to mainstream venues," according to text at the foundation’s Web site. "The Foundation’s Leslie/Lohman Gallery mounts exhibitions of work in all media by gay and lesbian artists with an emphasis on subject matter that speaks directly to gay and lesbian sensibilities, including, erotic, political, romantic, and social imagery and providing special support for emerging and underrepresented artists," the text continues.