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Mary Max, wife of famed pop art icon Peter Max, commits suicide in their Manhattan apartment amid bitter court battle with husband’s adult stepchildren over control of dementia afflicted husband’s fortune

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Death in troubled household of 1960s counter-cultural icon whose legacy has sparked a bitter feud in among family members
Mary Max wife of famous pop artist Peter Max, 81, killed herself in their Manhattan apt amid a bitter legal battle with his adult children over the icon’s fortune
52-year-old Mary, who died of nitrogen asphyxiation, was found dead by a friend, an apparent suicide in her Manhattan apt on Sunday night
She was the wife of famed pop artist Peter Max Finkelstein, better known as Peter Max
Her 81-year-old husband of more than 20 years, suffers from an advanced form of dementia
Her death comes amid a bitter legal battle with other members of the Max family about Peter’s artwork and his declining health 
Mary has been locked in a legal battle with her husband’s estranged son son, Adam, over the estate for the past five years
Adam Max sued his stepmother in 2015 accusing her of attempting to kill his father so that she could take control of his multi-million dollar art collection
Mary counter-sued, accusing her stepson of stealing $4.3m of artwork given to her in a prenuptial agreement 
Mary Max [right], with husband Peter Max [left] 1Mary Max [right], seen with her pop artist husband Peter Max [left],  circa 2009, has been embroiled in a ongoing feud with her stepson Adam Max ever since he sued her in 2015 after accusing her of attempting to kill his father so that she could take control of his multi-million dollar art collection
Mary had been embroiled in a ongoing feud with her stepson Adam Max ever since he sued her in 2015 after accusing her of attempting to kill his father so that she could take control of his multi-million dollar art collection.
In turn, Mary accused her stepson of stealing $4.3million worth of artwork that her husband had given her in a prenuptial agreement.
The artist’s mental state has deteriorated significantly in recent years as the legal battles between his family have continued in court.
Mary asked a court four years ago to appoint a guardian to oversee her husband’s business after Adam and three business associates took over the artist’s studio.

They increased production and profit through a series of art auctions on cruise ships, although the artiste reportedly was too ill to paint and had not done so, in nearly four years.
They claimed that mid-century pop icon was just signing his name to other artists work that mimicked the colorful and psychedelic style that made him such a hit with hippy set in the 1960s and 1970s.
After the court granted Mary’s request for a guardian, Adam removed his father from his home and moved him around New York for more than a month.
In a series of damning accusations, Mary accused Adam of concealing the whereabouts of Peter and effectively ‘kidnapping’ him.
Mary Max [right], with husband Peter Max [left] 6Mary Max, 52, seen [right] with her 81-year-old husband’s Peter Max [left], last year was found dead in her  Riverside Drive apt on Sunday evening, amidst a bitter legal battle with her stepson Adam Max, 49, over her husband’s artwork
Mary Max's New City apt 1The embattled artiste’s wife was found dead in her New York City apartment [photo], on Sunday, according to police 
Peter Max and Bill Clinton 2Pop artist king Peter Max [right], is seen presenting a portrait to President Bill Clinton[left], in New York, in 2002
Adam retorted that he was protecting his father from Mary’s verbal and physical abuse, describing her as neglectful.
That view that was later supported by the guardian Mary appointed herself.
Members of household staff also accused Mary of neglecting her husband, saying she withheld food and even put ‘large Brazil nuts’ in his smoothies that acted as a choking hazard.
In a transcript of a recorded interview seen in court, Mary discussed with her driver about hiring a goon to intimidate her husband and to damage his painting hand.
However, one court-appointed lawyer claimed that Peter stated his love for his wife several times and that removing him from his home could have been detrimental to his well-being.
A judge ordered Peter to be returned to his wife’s care at their Riverside Drive home and that a guardian oversee both his business and personal affairs.
Peter’s daughter Libra, who lives in Los Angeles, took over her father’s studio in January and filed a lawsuit to stop her brother from being able to interact with the company.
Mary was the famed artist’s second wife.

He married Elizabeth Nance in 1963 and the pair had two children, Adam Cosmo and Libra Astro, before they divorced in 1976.
He went on to have a string of high profile relationships before meeting Mary Balkin on a Manhattan sidewalk in 1996.
Mary, a blonde with a pixie cut, caught Peter’s eye. He approached her and introduced himself saying: ‘I’ve been painting your profile my entire life.’
They married a year later and the wedding was officiated by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Mary Max [right], with husband Peter Max [left] 2Berlin-born Peter (left)  rose to fame in the 1960s, when he became known for his psychedelic art and pop art. He married Mary Baldwin (right)  in 1997. 
Peter Max 3Peter pictured at home in New York in 1967, before he met Mary
Mary and Peter Max at their wedding in 1997Peter Max Finkelstein with Mary Balkin on their Wedding day in 1997 : The transcript of a recorded interview submitted in court, has Mary discussing with her driver about hiring a thug to intimidate her husband and to damage his painting hand. But Peter has said he always loved Mary.
Peter Max and daughter Libra 1Peter Max with his daughter Libra [left]. She has took over her father’s studio in January and filed a lawsuit to stop her brother, Adam,  from being able to interact with the company.  

Peter’s artwork – renowned for its colorful and psychedelic style – made him a counter-cultural icon.
At the height of his popularity, he was creating art for the likes of the Super Bowl, World Cup, the U.S. Open, and the White House law.
His works featured on everything from bed sheets to cereal boxes, to postage stamps and a chunk of the Berlin Wall.
Peter later expanded his partnership with Park West Gallery and it became a name familiar to anyone who has vacationed on a major cruise line, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival.
Cruise ship auctions provide the bulk of Park West Gallery’s revenue and a ‘Peter Max original’ is their biggest sell for customers who are willing to pay up to $30,000 for one.
His name has become so intertwined with cruise ships – who can get as much as a 40 percent cut from Park West sales – that Norwegian even has an entire Peter Max-themed ship.
The ship’s hull is adorned with his Statue of Liberty.
Portrait of Barack Obama by Peter Max 1Peter famously painted world leaders, including Barack Obama [photo], and even presented art to Bill Clinton
Berlin-born Peter rose to fame in the 1960s, when he became known for his psychedelic art and pop art.
The son of German Jews, born on October 19, 1937, he fled Berlin as a baby and grew up in Shanghai  for the first decade of his life, before moving to and Israel and eventually settling in Brooklyn.
In the 1960s, he set up an art studio in Manhattan with his friend Tom Daly, soon he was well- known for his counter-culture pieces as he cemented himself at the heart of the Pop Art movement.
In 1963, Peter married Elizabeth Nance, and the pair had two children, Adam Cosmo and Libra Astro.
The pair divorce in 1976. He went on to have a string of high profile relationships, before meeting Mary Balkin on a Manhattan sidewalk in 1996.

Mary, a blonde with a pixie cut, caught Peter’s eye. He approached her and introduced himself saying ‘I’ve been painting your profile my entire life.’
A year later they married. It was officiated by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Peter Max with his first wife and son at his home in New York, circa 1967 1Peter Max with his first wife Elizabeth and son Adam, in Oct 1967 at his home in New Yorkiframe src=”//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?o=1&p=12&l=ur1&category=tab_lnch_fireab3ack_242&banner=1RF7GQJCXEB22T3C2X82&f=ifr&lc=pf4&linkID=d0d6ed3062ba5a36a03e7c4b146cd4bd&t=konniemomen0a-20&tracking_id=konniemomen0a-20″ width=”300″ height=”250″ scrolling=”no” border=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ style=”border:none;” frameborder=”0″>
Peter Max had been commissioned by the US Postal Service to create a stamp, and amassed his fortune through becoming the official artist for dozens of major events including the World Series,  the 1994 World Cup, the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He has also been the official artist for the US Winter Olympics team and his work is very popular on cruise ship auctions. In 2015, he painted a cruise ship, part of Norwegian’s fleet.
Peter’s work is very popular on cruise ship auctions. In 2015, he painted a cruise ship, part of Norwegian’s fleet, the Norweigan Breakaway.

An icon from the 1960’s world of pop culture, Max was a contemporary of Andy Warhol, also friends with the Beatles and inspired the famous Yellow Submarine album artwork.
However, as his health waned a bitter struggle for control ensued within his family, as his wife Mary feuded with son Adam.
The pair fought over the care of Peter, who is suffering from a severe  form of dementia, and his pricey art collection.
Peter Max in his New York studio 1A still active Peter Max in his New York studio in 2012. Where he unveiled a series of portraits of Paul McCartney for his birthday
The twilight years of Max’s life have produced a pursuit of art-auction profits and a trail of misfortune as surreal as his more enigmatic works.
Peter’s work is very popular on cruise ship auctions. In 2015, he painted a cruise ship, part of Norwegian’s fleet, the Norweigan Breakaway.
An icon from the 1960’s world of pop culture, Max was a contemporary of Andy Warhol, also friends with the Beatles and inspired the famous Yellow Submarine album artwork.
By 2012,  the painter’s mental faculties reportedly ‘were beginning to wane.’

He would sign books, squiggle designs on cocktail napkins for dinner companions, or hold a brush and put some paint on canvas for public appearances, but he struggled to truly create.
In the next couple of years, Mr. Max stopped painting almost entirely. “The cruise ship art, he signs his name but he doesn’t do a blink of art on there,” one source said.
“He’s not capable of doing it anymore.”
In five years of bruising legal drama, the artist’s family, friends and associates have been trading lurid courtroom allegations of kidnapping, hired goons, attempted murder by Brazil nut, and schemes to wring even more money out of what was already one of the most profitable art franchises in modern times.

With the onset of his his dementia, his estranged son, Adam, and three business associates took over Max’s studio, drastically increasing production for a never-ending series of art auctions on cruise ships, even as the artist himself could hardly paint.
Peter Max themed Swedish cruise ship 1Max’s work is very popular on cruise ship auctions. In 2015, he painted a cruise ship, part of Norwegian’s fleet, the Norweigan Breakaway seen [photo] with the theme based on Lady Liberty
Then, in 2015, his wife, Mary, asked a New York court to appoint a guardian to oversee her husband’s business. Soon after her request was granted, Adam took his father out of his home for more than a month, moving him between various locations around New York, creating a furor, drawing protests from his sister and his step-mother.


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