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Trust & Estate Litigation Matters of Maurice Sendak

Dec. 2, 2016

Many New York readers are familiar with the work of author Maurice Sendak. The beloved children’s author passed away in 2012. However, his name has become synonymous with trust & estate litigation matters based on contention over a portion of the author’s rare books collection. That dispute was recently settled, likely to the relief of Sendak’s heirs and those associated with the author’s charitable foundation.

At issue in the case was ownership of nearly 800 rare books from Sendak’s collection. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia brought a lawsuit against Maurice Sendak’s estate. The Maurice Sendak Foundation also played a role in the litigation.

In reaching a settlement, an agreement was made concerning which volumes would go to which institution. The case is dragged on for more than two years, during which time various judgments have already addressed the distribution of many of the books. The Sendak estate receives 252 books, while the Rosenbach is given 88 volumes. Another ruling gave 155 volumes to the Rosenbach. Two of the books included in the settlement have an estimated value of millions of dollars.

As this case illustrates, trust & estate litigation matters can take a significant amount of time to resolve in New York or elsewhere. The details of the settlement have not been made public, although information concerning how many of the books were distributed is available based on previous rulings. However, it is of little doubt that Sendak’s heirs are relieved to put this matter behind them and focus on preserving the beloved author’s legacy.

Source:, “Settlement reached in Rosenbach’s Maurice Sendak lawsuit“, Peter Dobrin, Nov. 29, 2016