FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 27, 2021
FAMILY, FRIENDS & ADVOCATES LAUNCH #FreePeterMax CAMPAIGN WITH OPEN LETTER AND WEBSITE DEMANDING RELEASE OF RENOWNED ARTIST PETER MAX FROM ABUSIVE GUARDIANSHIP AND FORCED ISOLATION
NEW YORK, N.Y. – #FreePeterMax is a grassroots movement demanding the release of 84-year-old renowned artist Peter Max from an unconstitutional and predatory guardianship that has severely restricted his access to family and friends while depleting his bank account of millions of dollars. The campaign is urging supporters to sign an open letter that will be sent to public officials who have jurisdiction over guardianships (also known as conservatorships).
The involuntary isolation and cruel treatment of Peter at the hands of the court-appointed guardian (a stranger) began almost a year before COVID in violation of his civil liberties and human rights. The letter (below) details the exploitation and can be signed at www.FreePeterMax.com.
Prominent individuals who have already signed include: Michael Lang (Producer & Creator of the Woodstock Music Festival), Prof. Philip C. Marshall (grandson of Brooke Astor), Tom Freston (former Chairman & CEO of MTV Networks and former Viacom Co-President & Co-COO), Mary L. Trump, Bradford Disney Lund (grandson of Walt Disney who is also trapped in an abusive conservatorship), Catherine Falk (daughter of Peter Falk, pioneer of The Peter Falk Bill), Kerry Rooney-Mack (daughter of Mickey Rooney, family rights advocate), Dr. Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy (elder justice advocate), as well as Co-Founders of Free Britney America and other advocates across the country.
Full open letter that supporters can sign onto at www.FreePeterMax.com:
AN URGENT CALL TO SAVE THE LIFE OF PETER MAX
Peter Max – Pop Artist, 84-year-old devoted and loving father, loyal and compassionate friend, Holocaust survivor, animal and human rights advocate, and a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease – is being kept in forced isolation in a predatory guardianship in New York City. The guardianship has depleted his hard-earned life’s earnings by over $16 million, with millions being paid, without his permission, to the court-appointed guardians and attorneys who now control all aspects of his life.
Since 2019, Peter’s family and friends have been privately waging a legal battle to free Peter from his involuntary isolation at the hands of strangers; restore to him his dignity; and allow him to be surrounded by loved ones at the end of his life. After more than two years of isolation, Peter’s loved ones fear he is losing his will to live. His health has steeply declined; he appears dangerously over-medicated; and his family and friends fear for his life.
Peter is gentle, loving, and a deeply sensitive man. Everyone close to him knows that he thrives with companionship and suffers without it. Peter was born in Nazi Germany; he escaped with only his parents, with most of his family killed by the Nazis. He grew up as a refugee in Shanghai. The trauma and loss that Peter experienced at a young age has stayed with him throughout his life. Peter arrived in Brooklyn as a teenage immigrant with a hope for the American dream and a love for freedom. The beauty in his art was his answer to the war.
Can you imagine having dedicated your entire life to nurturing a family, a successful career, and many deep, loving, and lasting relationships, only to find yourself, at the hands of a complete stranger, a court-appointed guardian:
being held in forced isolation nearly 24 hours a day;
being forbidden from seeing your loved ones (including your own children) unless they lodge a formal written request, and, when you are permitted to see them, visits are severely time limited, closely surveilled, and reported on;
being prohibited from having any visitors, ever, in your own home (including your children), which had for decades been a hive of bustling activity filled with love and laughter;
being forbidden from being cared for by your children, notwithstanding your articulated desire to be cared for by them at the end of your life, just as you cared for your parents at the end of theirs;
having your phone confiscated so you cannot make any calls, and having to ask permission to use your own phone to call your own children;
having all of your medical decisions made by a for-profit and unfamiliar court-appointed guardian (a lawyer) who has no medical or geriatric training, and having all your medical information withheld from your family, despite the fact that you had named your children in your Health Care Proxy;
having your beloved rescued cats cruelly taken away from you, never mind that you were deeply attached to them and had enjoyed the company of animals in your home for over 60 years;
being surveilled in your own home 24 hours a day through cameras recording both audio and visual with a direct feed to a court-appointed guardian’s cell phone, so that the lonely, disorienting life that has been forced on you can be constantly observed, in violation of your privacy rights and civil liberties;
being restricted from going to your own art studio, the very place you created and where your self- expression flourished for decades;
having your life-long friends being required to sign a daunting non-disclosure agreement before they are even allowed to speak to you, and, when you are permitted to speak to them, you are forced to hang up mid-conversation;
repeatedly asking for the companionship of your family and friends, only for your court-appointed guardian to ignore your pleas;
having your existing legal and estate planning documents voided;
being prohibited from speaking to your long-time attorney, and having counsel thrust upon you that you did not choose; and
having your hard-earned financial assets liquidated for the benefit of court-appointed strangers.
It took a beautiful imagination to create Peter’s artistic world of color, joy, happiness, and love. It took a lifetime of hard work to achieve his personal success, with the independence and security that success gave him. What right does anyone have to take all of that away? The guardianship of Peter Max has descended into captivity, where protection in theory has become exploitation in practice; a case study of just how much can go wrong when the vast powers of the State are turned against the interests of the person those powers are meant to protect. It is a textbook example of a predatory guardianship: Isolate; Medicate; Steal the Estate. Peter and his family have been denied the most essential Constitutional right to familial privacy – the right of the family to remain together without the coercive interference of the awesome power of the State. Peter’s final wishes are being ignored and his most fundamental Constitutional and Human Rights violated. We, the undersigned, ask that Peter Max’s unnecessary and unjust guardianship end so that Peter can be returned to the care of his family, as he has been pleading for since 2019, and so that he can receive an immediate and critical medical evaluation. We stand in solidarity with the millions of victims of guardianship abuse and their families.
Libra Max Daughter
Morgan Greene Cousin
Tom Freston Former Chairman & CEO, MTV Networks, COO, Viacom Firefly3; Peter’ s friend of 40 years
Cassandra Dumas Co-Founder, Free Britney America
Dylan Spence Co-Founder, Free Britney America
Michael Lang Creator & Producer, Woodstock Festival - Peter’s friend of 52 years
Bradford Disney Lund Grandson of Walt Disney Currently exploited under conservatorship
Allan Jakubiwicz Peter’s friend of 52 years
Prof. Philip C. Marshall Grandson of Brooke Astor Founder, BeyondBrooke.org
Beverly Newman, Ph.D. Director, The Al Katz Center for Holocaust Survivors of Jewish Learning Father died in exploitive guardianship
Mary L. Trump
Sam Sugar, M.D. Founder-President, Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG), Mother-in-law died in exploitative guardianship
Lawrence Carter-Long Disability Rights Activist Peter’s friend of 19 years
Christine Montanti Senior Editor, Social Life Magazine Mother in exploitative guardianship
Yolanda Bell, MS Founder, Anastasia's Voice Sister died in exploitative guardianship
Hillary Hogue Probate Reform Advocate Saved father from exploitative guardianship
Lynn and Alan Sayler Guardianship Reform Advocates Lynn’s mother died in exploitative guardianship
Donna Reid O'Neil Mother died under exploitative guardianship
Susyn Schops Cousin
Rosie Vela Model, songwriter Peter’s former partner & friend of 47 years
Edward Tricomi Founder & Principal, Warren Tricomi Peter’s friend of 45 years
Ric O’Barry Founder/Director, Dolphin Project Peter’s friend of 34 years
Catherine Falk, MA Daughter of Peter Falk Family rights visitation advocate and pioneer of The Peter Falk Bill
Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D. Founder, ElderDignity.org Aunt died after 8 years in exploitative guardianship
Kerry Rooney-Mack Daughter of Mickey Rooney Family Rights Advocate
Mary Bush Guardianship/Probate Reform Advocate Mother died after 12 years in exploitative guardianship
Joanne Bougalis Living in exile in Greece after rescuing mother from exploitative guardianship
Lawrence T. Reid, Jr. Guardianship Reform Advocate Mother died under exploitative guardianship
Douglas Franks Probate Reform Advocate, FreeErnestine.com Saved mother from exploitative guardianship
Hart Gliedman Cousin
Victor Zurbel Art Director, Peter Max Biographer Peter’s friend of 55 years
Mimi Gelb, MS, LMFT Peter’s friend of 45 years
Sherry Lund Probate Reform Advocate
Dr. Jenn Mann, LMFT VH1 Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn
Linda Kincaid, MPH and Richard Calhoun Co-Chairs, Coalition for Elder & Disability Rights
Errol Rappaport Probate Reform Advocate Mother died under exploitative guardianship
Ashia Chacko, EdM Psychologist and Social Justice Advocate
Marcia Friedman Guardianship Reform Advocate Mother died in exploitative guardianship
Eric Schiffer Chairman & CEO, Patriarch Organization