The “Sleeping Dog”
Information and Documentation Regarding
Gerard Dou Painting “Sleeping Dog with Still Life
it pertains to Estate of Nita Stark, Deceased
Community Property Characterization:
The “Sleeping Dog” painting by Gerard Dou was acquired by Nita and Lutcher Stark during their marriage and was, therefore, community property. Because it was community property, Nita Stark owned a one-half interest and Lutcher Stark owned the other one-half interest. Nita’s one-half interest in this asset was listed on multiple documents, inventories and accountings in the Nita Stark estate, including the following:
— Estate Inventory (filed in Orange County Court):
Value of Dou painting is among “household furnishings/pictures” under “Residence” on the Inventory, which is under the heading “Community Property”.
— Appraisal Report (American Appraisal Company, Feb. 16, 1940):
This company prepared a room-by-room inventory of personal property “owned jointly by Mr. H.J. Lutcher Stark and the late Nita Hill Stark…for the purpose of determining the fair market value of such property as of the date October 11, 1939, and the equity of the late Nita Hill Stark.”
The Dou painting is listed as community property on the American Appraisal Report on page 51 (Bates #C003655) as follows:
oil painting on wood panel, 6 ¾” x9” –
Sleeping Dog with Still Life – by Gerard Dou;
gilt frame ……… $600.00
Painting Part of
Nita’s one-half interest in the Dou painting (and the corresponding value of that one-half interest at the time of her death in 1939) was among the assets listed as part of Nita’s estate to be divided between (1) Homer and Bill, and (2) Lutcher (since Lutcher still owned his half interest in community property assets).
Both Homer and Bill were given “first choice” as to which property they wanted from their adopted mother’s estate. Homer and Bill did NOT choose to take the Dou painting as part of their distribution, even though it was explicitly listed among the assets of the Nita Stark estate.
All 14 of the various paintings chosen by Bill are detailed on the ledger, along with the 2 paintings chosen by Homer.
The second page of the detailed ledger explicitly reflects that the balance of the paintings – those not taken by Homer or Bill – was given to Lutcher Stark. The “Sleeping Dog, Gerard Dou” work is specifically listed as the first item in the list of paintings received by default by Lutcher Stark.
— Winkelman Final Audit Report (March 31, 1948):
On page 7, Winkelman describes the division of household furnishings (which included the painting) and noted that neither Homer nor Bill elected to take their full distribution in the household furnishings category in kind (i.e., by actual tangible property), electing credits instead that were satisfied by other assets, such as cash.
Page 15 of the Winkelman Report shows that Homer took an in-kind household distribution of less than $1,000, while Bill’s in-kind household distributions totaled $13,620.00. (Homer opted to receive more cash than personal property items.)
Pages 25-34 of the Winkelman Report detail the values of distributions of household furnishings among Homer, Bill and Lutcher, including “pictures” and “objects of art”. These values are based on the detailed ledger regarding the distribution of various items among the parties with an interest (being Homer and Bill with regard to Nita’s one-half interest and Lutcher with regard to his own one-half interest).
Not only was the Dou painting listed as community property of Nita Stark’s estate, it was among the assets presented to Homer and Bill Stark for them to choose from when Nita’s estate was distributed.
A beneficiary may either receive the actual object (with ½ of the value going to the other owner of the community property interest in the object) or the beneficiary may receive the value of the community property/half interest, with the actual object going to the surviving spouse who holds the other half of the community property interest.
Homer and Bill chose the latter in their adopted mother’s estate. Namely, the twins specifically rejected the Dou painting, choosing instead an amount of cash and jewelry that corresponded to the value of ½ community property interest in the painting at the time of Nita’s death (1939).
Because neither Homer Stark nor Bill Stark elected to receive the Dou painting as part of their distribution from the Nita Stark estate, Lutcher Stark received 100% interest in the Dou painting by default, all as evidenced by the above documents.