The family of artist Peter Max, who has dementia, has accused his court-appointed carer of abuse, claiming she forced him into “involuntary isolation”.
German-born Max, 84, became an icon in the global art world in the 1960s. He now lives in New York City and has been cared for by court-appointed guardian Barbara Lissner for three years.
Now Peter’s 55-year-old daughter Libra is struggling to break guardianship. She claims that Lissner stole or squandered $16 million of his fortune and that she keeps him away from friends and family. It is not clear what Max’s net worth is.
In 2019, Max’s second wife, Mary, took her own life when she claimed she had exploited his dementia for financial gain.
After her suicide, New York appointed Lissner as Max’s guardian. In the years since, she says, Lissner has kept her father away from those who love him.
Artist Peter Max, 84, is shown in a video recently posted online by his daughter Libra saying he is trapped in abusive guardianship. Max has Alzheimer’s and his daughter says he is being held in “involuntary isolation”.
Peter Max was shown in 2012 before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. A well-known figure in the art world, he is best known for his bright, colorful work
Court-appointed guardian Barbara Lissner. She was hired to handle Peter Max’s affairs after his wife died in 2019
She has shared videos of him specifically telling her that Lissner has no control over who he is and is not allowed to see.
In her most recent court filing on Tuesday, Libra said Lissner knowingly withheld information about her father’s health from her.
“My father should never have been placed under guardianship in the first place, and he shouldn’t be now.
‘[He] has a loving daughter, me, and he has begged me to take care of him like my father did for his own father.
“It’s our family culture to take care of ourselves,” she told Rolling Stone.
Speaking on a website campaigning for the end of guardianship, Peter’s family says: “After three years of isolation, Peter’s loved ones fear he is losing his will to live.
Peter was cared for by his wife Mary (shown together in 2018) until she killed herself in 2018 amid allegations that she was abusing him and attempting to kill him
Peter’s 55-year-old daughter Libra (pictured together) is now campaigning to end his guardianship and says she and her brother Adam are the only people who should be looking after his affairs
“His health has deteriorated badly; he appears to be dangerously over-medicated and his family and friends fear for his life.’
“Peter is gentle, loving and a deeply sensitive man. Anyone close to him knows he thrives on companionship and suffers without it.”
The family claim his phone was confiscated to prevent him from arranging his own visits and that Max’s adult children must make written requests whenever they want to see him.
They also say the guardian “depleted” her father’s fortune “by paying millions without his permission to the court-appointed guardians and attorneys who now control all aspects of his life.”
A letter asking the court to lift the guardianship has garnered more than 100 signatures on the family’s website. They accuse him of abuse.
Peter Max with Britney Spears in a photo posted to the artist’s Instagram page
Peter Max with family friend Michael Lang, who is campaigning for an end to guardianship among more than 100 people
Lissner did not immediately respond to ‘s request for comment on Wednesday.
Peter’s wife Mary had looked after his affairs until her suicide in 2019. She had also been accused of abusing him by his household staff and children.
Peter’s health problems began in 2012 when his ability to create art began to decline.
He and Mary had been married since 1997 at this point. Libra and her brother Adam are Peter’s children from his first marriage. He and Mary had no children together.
According to the New York Times, around the time of her death, Mary – who was 30 years her husband’s junior – had been accused by the children of trying to kill Peter.
Both Adam and Libra had large stakes in their father’s art studio, the newspaper reported.