Libra Max, the daughter of iconic American Pop artist Peter Max, on June 14 launched a suit seeking to end the guardianship of her eighty-four-year-old father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s-related dementia. As originally reported in Rolling Stone, Libra is aiming to remove attorney Barbara Lissner from the role of guardian, which she has held since 2019, when she was appointed by a court. Among Libra’s allegations are that Lissner has isolated the notoriously social artist from family members and from his wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and that the lawyer is withholding from Libra information regarding his health. The suit also alleges excessive fees charged by Lissner.
Lissner, for her part, late last year filed a suit against Libra accusing the artist’s daughter of defamation. The attorney contends that Max placed himself into guardianship in 2015 and that the artist “objected to having Libra appointed as his guardian, that he was found to have the capacity to consent, and in fact did consent to having a personal needs guardian appointed by the court.” (A 2020 ruling on the matter noted that Max did not wish to choose which of his children would become his guardian, preferring a neutral party in the role.) Lissner is Max’s third guardian to date, having been appointed shortly after the suicide of Max’s wife Mary Balkin, whom Libra alleges sought the guardianship in the first place.
Max’s son, Adam, has said he sides with Lissner, recently telling the New York Post that the attorney is giving the artist “excellent care. He’s never been treated better in his life.” Adam in 2019 was the subject of a New York Times article which reported that he hired an army of artists to churn out Max-style works, which the ailing artist would then sign before the younger man sold them as originals. Adam and Libra Max each own 40 percent of their father’s fortune, while the artist owns the remaining 20 percent. Max himself resides at home on New York’s Upper East Side, where he is cared for by aides hired by Lissner and is said to no longer be able to contribute actively to the conversation regarding his own care.