Two paintings owned by Vinalhaven artist Robert Indiana sold for $5 million at auction at Christie’s in New York on Friday, well above a pre-auction estimate of about $4 million for both.

Ellsworth Kelly’s “Orange Blue,” oil on canvas, 16-by-12 inches. The painting sold Friday for $2.3 million.

“Orange Blue” by Ellsworth Kelly sold for $2.3 million and “Ruby” by Ed Ruscha sold for $2.7 million, said James Brannan of Rockland, the attorney for Indiana’s estate, who attended the sale. The artist died May 19 at age 89.

Brannan will use the money from the sale to make repairs to Indiana’s island home, the Star of Hope. In his will, Indiana stipulated that a foundation be established to run a museum at his mansion. The building is in poor condition, and Brannan hopes to put a new roof on it before winter sets in.

“I am very gratified,” he said by phone. “I am gratified to have funds available to restore the Star of Hope and to effectuate the intent of Robert Indiana to create a world-class museum to exhibit his work.”

Scholars, friends and curators have criticized Brannan for selling the paintings, because they help tell an important part of Indiana’s personal and professional story and will be missed if the Star of Hope is turned into a museum.

Brannan said he hoped to arrange for the Kelly painting, “Orange Blue,” to be available for exhibition. “I have reached out to the new owner … and hope to have a relationship that may allow it to be occasionally loaned and exhibited at the museum,” he wrote in an email.

Indiana was named in a lawsuit filed in federal court the day before he died, alleging fraud.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

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