"This Vivian Maier story is filled with intrigue and secrecy and deception..." --Pamela Bannos


Considering where the Vivian Maier legacy now sits, I would consider Ms. Bannos'  quote an understatement. In light of where the two major Vivian Maier projects now lay, one collection closed and sold, mine, and John Maloof's collection presently languishing, Bannos' quote hits the bullseye dead center. While dealing with conflicting and changing information, the following answers are to the best of my knowledge and are coupled with my personal observations and thoughts. To help keep things in perspective, I am a vested tax paying, law abiding Cook County resident of 35 years, 5th generation Chicagoan, multi property and multi small business owner. -- Jeffrey Goldstein

  Q: What, if any, are the legal and financial repercussions to either John Maloof or you concerning copyright? 
A: Considering the due diligence used in seeking proper heir and working in good faith, and being the creators of the value of copyright, our liabilities range from nonexistent to very little at best. If profitability exists, which it doesn't for my project, a liability of 10% of profitability is considered the industry standard in a case like this.

Q: What does Cook County want?  
A: It seems to me that through their various tactics they would like to control the material themselves. They do not seem particularly interested in having my involvement, perspective, or having me share my experience.

  Q: Can Cook County legally take the material away from you? 
A: No, it was legally purchased before Vivian Maier's death and is considered to be privately owned property.  What I possessed was not ever considered part of Vivian Maier's estate.
  Q: Are the attorneys for Cook County paid by us, the tax paying citizens of Cook County? 
A: No, they are paid by the estates that they’re handling. My understanding is that they presently have $80,000 in billable hours against the estate. As there is nothing in the estate the attorneys are relying on John and I to place money into the estate through copyright usage.
  Q: What is in Vivian Maier's estate? 
A: The only thing in Vivian Maier's estate is copyright. Maloof and I created the value of copyright through our projects. To date, the value of copyright has been based solely on our work and energy.
  Q: What is happening with the heir(s)? 
A: Cook County is claiming total control over copyright and will not recognize any potential heir outside of Vivian Maier's brother, Charles, who disappeared in 1955, 60 years ago. Cook County will hold the estate should Charles show up until he would reach 100 years of age, which is in another 5 years. 
  Q: And, then will they hand the estate over to someone? 
A: No, although there is no evidence or proof, Cook County will continue to operate and hold the estate open in case Charles had any children.
  Q: How long will the estate be held for unknown children? 
A: I don't know, but I would venture to say it will be held by Cook County long after I am dead.
  Q: Does Cook County understand what goes into your fine art prints, the actual process itself?
A: I assume not, as neither John Maloof nor I have been able to communicate "print" information to in them in the sense of where they could actually hold and examine a print, front and back, while allowing someone to explain the process and provenance of this essential part of the projects. I'd further venture to say they don't understand the associated costs of the process or why the prints are valued. It's frustrating in the 7 months, or so, since this case unfolded that there has been no interest expressed by anyone from Cook County in wanting to understand the photographs. I don't expect any of the attorneys to have an art degree but I do expect them to care enough to want to develop a basic understanding in order to make good decisions. Without a basic understanding, I don't expect any good decision making can be made for either their own betterment, our betterment or those who wish to see Vivian Maier's work. Cook Counties' lack of due diligence has rendered them incapable in assisting in anyone's ongoing success, including I think their own with the Vivian Maier's estate that they now hold.
  Q: Who are all the attorneys? 
A: Well, I have two attorneys, David Bea is my intellectual property attorney and Daniel Marren is my probate attorney. David Epstein is Cook County's pulbic administrator, and working underneath him is the attorney, Colleen Chinlund. Also working for Cook County from the private sector is Colleen Chinlund's husband, Gregory Chinlund, and James McGrath. Both are have been hired on as intellectual property attorneys. Also, there is the attorney, David Deal who started the process that totally bombed out my project, and his attorney, Joan Ferraro, Real Estate attorney who unsuccessfully attempted to do the filing to close Vivian Maier's estate.
Q: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank the governmental oversight and handling of this case? 
A: Well, considering I am a long time productive and committed resident of Chicago, Illinois, and factoring just alone that this state and city are literally the worst financial strapped places in the entire country, coupled with some of the heaviest taxation,  highest home foreclosure rate, and at or just one step up from junk bond rating, the handling of this case has caused the loss of employment, tax revenueand future growth.  Four full time and 1-2  on and off part timers are now out of work. There is also the loss of income to our venders, coupled with the future losses of income to what was a growing project.  Also lost is the financial and visible support we provided to locally based galleries and institutions and the dozen or so already hard hit charities and nonprofits we worked with on a national level. Most importantly is the invaluable loss of culture. I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rank the governmental handling and oversight of this case a rocksolid zero. On a scale of 1-10 of embarrassment caused by governmental approach and handling of the Vivian Maier project, on a international level, I give it a rock solid 10.
  Q: Pamela Bannos has stated that she has proof that Charles is dead. Is that being presented to Cook County? 
A: Yes to the first part, or so she claims in a Reader article, and I’m uncertain with regard to if that information has been presented to Cook County.
  Q: What is Pamela Bannos’ take on all this, this is a new epic chapter that dovetails right into her work, The Fractured Archive
A: I don't know. I do have to say that I am intrigued there hasn't been a peep from Bannos since all this went down.  
  Q: What’s the deal on Deal? 
A: Although Deal still touts on his website that he is the lead attorney in the Vivian Maier estate case, but to my understanding is that he is completely out. I think he would have to sue Cook County for recognition of his client. So my understanding is, no deal for Deal.
  Q: How did Deal lose control of the estate he was trying to close? 
A: Well there’s more intrigue, instead of hiring a probate attorney, Deal hired an attorney that the judge decided not to hand over administration rights to. The case was instead handed over to a public administrator, David Epstein.
  Q: Why did you sell your collection? 
A: Being an art collector since the mid 70's this was one of the toughest decision I have ever had to make. Simply, I didn't want to see the collection in Cook County's hands, and all indications were, and still are, what I feel is an impossible arena to work in. Cook County wanted me to continue the project (to ultimately feed the estate), but would offer no protection from liability from them. I respectfully quit as soon as we became aware of a potential issue.
  Q: Are you really shutting down? 
A: Sadly, yes, we have and are done.
  Q: Will you resume your project at some point in the future? 
A: No.
  Q: What will happen to the material in Canada? 
A: That I don't know, Stephen Bulger in Toronto would be the one to ask that question.
  Q: Why did you sell the negatives to Stephen Bulger? 
A: He and his gallery staff have been a constant delight to work with. Stephen's moral compass is right on, and I have always respected him for his passion, integrity and love of photography. Stephen Bulger knows how to stand his ground, and I feel whatever the outcome of this is, with the material in his possession, it will be handled in an honorable and professional way.  Stephen Bulger has the nice blend of one of the things I most respect, a good old fashion Chicago-style, blue collar work ethic.  Coupled with Canadian nice, he's the perfect choice for being the caretaker of the Vivian Maier legacy.
  Q: What will happen to the material in Canada? 
A: That I don't know, Stephen Bulger in Toronto would be the one to ask that question.
Q: I don't understand. If you have shut down your project, why are you still involved with putting out information about Cook County's wayward actions?
A: Just because I quit does not mean Cook County is still uninterested in trying to penalize me.  They still have the hopes of forcing me to put money into the Vivian Maier estate so that they can then draw off those funds for their billable hours.
  Q: If you sold the material why are you still involved with Cook County? Are you out of this or not?
A: I have sold the material and will not re-enter the project, nor ever will I work with Cook County, so I am finished. But, Cook County is not finished with me. Even though we (Maloof and I) have created the entire value to the Vivian Maier estate, harmed no one and did our due diligence, (regardless of erroneous and liable statement published comments by the attorney, David Deal) Cook County feels that besides crippling our Vivian Maier projects, we should be penalized for what we created.
Q: Is Cook County vested in the estate to help maintain the level of art and interest, or is this really all about money and billable hours?
A: I don't think they have any idea of what it is we do. Their poor decisions made to date seem to be money driven.
Q: Why don't you just sit down with them and explain what it takes to run your project?
A: Well, to date, the attorneys from Cook County seem either disinterested and/or unwilling to have a simple sit-down forum with me without adding undue contingencies. I have a video that I am posting of the presentation that I had intended to present to the attorneys. Hopefully by posting the video, they will watch it and perhaps have a better understanding of what has taken place. By having a better understanding perhaps they may start making more productive decisions for everyone, themselves included. Whether the concerns they have are about the art or money, the more they understand the better a platform they can work off of.
  Q: If others have a question about this, how do they contact you
A: They can contact me at info@vivianmaierphotography.com with the understanding that some of their questions may be posted on the new Q & A page.