Court rules in Maurice Sendak estate dispute

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2016 | Probate and Estate Disputes

Millions of children in Cincinnati and other parts of the world have grown up with the stories and art of Maurice Sendak, author of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Unfortunately, the man known for his literary and artistic ability passed away several years ago. Since then, his estate and foundation has been embroiled in an estate dispute with Rosenbach Museum and Library. A court has recently ruled on the dispute, largely in favor of the Sendak estate.

Sendak and the museum had a relationship prior to his death. The institute has been hosting his work for decades. Sendak indicated in his will that he wanted his foundation to work with the museum to continue displaying his work. However, his will also left what he described as his “rare edition books” to Rosenbach.

The museum initiated legal proceedings against the estate in 2014, arguing that it did not receive all of the books. However, representatives of the estate claim that Sendak did not intend for the museum to receive all of the 340 books in question which is why he intentionally included the world “edition.” A probate court has recently ruled that the estate will keep approximately three quarters of the books in question. It is unclear if either side intends to appeal the ruling.

Had Sendak left a detailed list of the items he wished Rosenbach to receive, an estate dispute may have been avoided. However, many people with large estates in Cincinnati find the process of listing items individually overly time-consuming. In some situations, a dispute cannot be avoided, but an attorney with experience with such litigation can help.

Source:, “Maurice Sendak’s Estate Awarded Favorable Verdict in Will Dispute“, Anna Sulkin, Nov. 7, 2016