Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images KINGSTON, N.Y. (AP) - A New York landlord…
- Posted on Mar 15th 2013 12:15PM by Jason MacNeil
According to the Kingston Times, Hudson, the longtime multi-instrumentalist in The Band, is suing Kingston landlord Mike Piazza for selling some of his possessions in an unlawful effort to recoup money Piazza claims Hudson owed in back rent for storage space.
"He pretty much has made false claims and stolen most of Garth's archives and personal belongings through illegal activity," Hudson's wife Maud Hudson told the publication. "We called the lawyer when we realized what happened. It was wrong they were sold. Many things are from archives and are very important to his life's work. We would really like to put out an appeal."
The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 28 seeking to stop the auction, recover remaining property and seeking damages for missing items. On March 1 State Supreme Court Justice Mary Work issued a temporary restraining order preventing any sale of items from the archive and mandating the archive be placed in a joint trust, basically a neutral party's hands. Hudson and his representatives would also be able to take inventory of the archive and inspect the items.
The suit claims the couple had a lease agreement to rent storage space from Piazza for $567 a month to store household items and the musician's music archive and memorabilia. However, because most of Hudson's income came in the form of two lump sum royalty payments from record companies each year, they informed Piazza that the payments wouldn't be in regular installments. The suit claims Piazza agreed to the payment plan.
However, as time went on, the lawsuit alleges Piazza raised the rent to $800 a month, and then doubled that amount without making changes to the original document and also moving the possessions on two occasions to different storage areas -- one of which flooded, causing water damage -- without notifying them or asking for permission. The archive included sheet music and photos of The Band and from early days as the Hawks with Ronnie Hawkins, as well as rare recordings and instruments.
"We know there is a very significant collectors market out there for anything related to The Band or Mr. Hudson," the couple's attorney John Clark said. "Some of the items are one of a kind, they are literally invaluable."
In March 2012, Piazza reportedly demanded $14,000 and threatened legal action. When Hudson and his wife offered to pay $11,000, the suit claims Piazza increased the price to $50,000 but had already begun selling off some of Hudson's items including gold records and a pump organ. The couple also allege Piazza raised the payment to $75,000 to ensure they wouldn't discover he had sold off some of the possessions.
Neither Piazza nor his lawyer commented on the suit. The "Garth Hudson Archive" was consigned to the JMW auction gallery pending an auction in early April. Meanwhile, Clark is hoping a consent agreement is executed to extend the injunction's conditions, keeping the archive in a neutral site until the lawsuit is over.
Hudson and his wife are hoping to get back most of the possessions sold and said they would purchase back anything that was sold from his archive. Anyone with information on the items sold is asked to contact the couple via email.