The wife of well-known US artist Peter Max has died in a suspected suicide amid a family fight over her husband's work and allegations that he was being exploited.
The New York Police Department said Mary Max, 52, was found dead Sunday in her apartment by her husband's health assistant.
Peter Max, who now suffers dementia at age 81, is known for his psychedelic, colourful artworks which have been celebrated since the 1960s.
Ms Max had been married to the artist since 1997.
Yesterday, her attorney, John Markham, said in an interview that in the hours before she died, she left a lengthy voicemail with a friend in London.
'She wanted to leave a message with certain instructions what to do with matters important to her and she wanted to say her goodbyes to her husband, her brother and mother, and close friends,' Markham said.
Max's work has been exhibited at museums, been the basis of popular wall posters, promoted major sporting events, graced the covers of rock records and appeared on a US postage stamp.
In recent years, some family members claimed in lawsuits and interviews that Peter Max was being mistreated and asked to sign his name to work created by a team of other artists.
Some of that art was sold on a cruise line and in galleries around the country, raking in millions of dollars.
Mary Max figured prominently in the disputes, telling a court that one of Max's sons from a previous marriage, Adam Max, had improperly taken custody of him and kept him from other relatives.
Adam Max countered with his own allegations, accusing Mary Max of being abusive toward her husband — allegations she denied.
A court returned Peter Max to his wife's care, but the fights over his art have continued.
Markham said his client 'wanted a new approach to an analysis of her rights.'
The attorney said there's been a recent revival of interest in Peter Max works, 'and there's a lot of squabbling over it.'
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