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Dallas Museum of Art, Kern Wildenthal File Motions to Dismiss Suit Over Reves Estate

Portrait of Mrs. Emery Reves by Graham Sutherland, 1978
Portrait of Mrs. Emery Reves by Graham Sutherland, 1978
Dallas Museum of Art

It's been three long months since Arnold Leon Schroeder Jr. filed his federal suit, so perhaps you've forgotten the details. Long story short: Schroeder -- the sole son of Marshall, Texas's own Wendy Russell Reves -- claims the Dallas Museum of Art charmed and flattered and conspired to swindle his alcoholic mother out of her $400-million collection of Monets, Rodins, van Goghs, Cézannes and so-forths, now known as The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art. He also alleges that Kern Wildenthal, former president of UT Southwestern, got his mother drunk enough to sign over a fortune intended for the hospital but controlled by Wildenthal and Ed Copley, her attorney. After Unfair Park broke the story, the DMA and UT Southwestern issued statements dismissing the suit as "unfounded," in the words of the museum's release.

Yesterday, at last, there was a new development: The DMA, Wildenthal and Copley filed separate motions to dismiss the suit. The DMA's motion, which recaps how it came to collect the Wendy and Emery Reves collection in 1981, dismisses Schroeder as someone with only "a very tangential connection" to Emery who, with this lawsuit, has now tried four separate times to make money off Wendy and Emery. A recent suit brought in Nice, France, over their former estate there has been dismissed -- again -- says the museum. Far as the DMA's concerned this is little more than Schroeder's attempt to "bootstrap a conspiracy theory" among the defendants, including Wildenthal and Copley, who had nothing to do with the DMA acquisition.

Wildenthal's motion to dismiss is no less exasperated in tone. An excerpt:

The breathtaking nature of the Amended Complaint's general allegations is matched by an equally breathtaking lack of supporting facts. The contrast between Schroeder's conclusory accusations and the actual facts that he pleads is striking:

  • The Amended Complaint generally accuses Dr. Wildenthal of fraud. Yet it does not identify a single misrepresentation.
  • The Amended Complaint accuses all defendants of participating in a scheme related to the donation of the art collection of Emery Reves, which was given to the Dallas Museum of Art in 1983. Yet the Amended Complaint also states that Dr. Wildenthal did not even meet Mrs. Reves until 1993, ten years after the donation. The Amended Complaint alleges no facts connecting Dr. Wildenthal in any way to the gift of the collection.
  • The Amended Complaint generally accuses Dr. Wildenthal of "pressuring" Wendy Reves to sign a will in 1998. But it contains no facts alleging that Mrs. Reves was incompetent when she signed her will, that she signed her will under duress, or that the will did not reflect her true wishes for her estate. To the contrary, the Amended Complaint acknowledges that Mrs. Reves left her will in effect for the last nine years of her life. It mentions only a single change she requested -- the designation of an additional co-executor in 1998.

All three motions to dismiss follow for those in need of morning reading.

DMA Motion to Dismiss

Wildenthal Motion to Dismiss

Copeley's Motion to Dismiss


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