The 87-year-old sculptor, who created the iconic bull statue, is being sued by his sons after he erased it from his will
The renowned sculptor who created the eponymous bull statue in Birmingham‘s Bull Ring has been embroiled in a bitter £5million court battle with his sons after he erased them from his will and left everything to the National Trust.
One of Britain’s top living artists, Laurence Broderick, 87, disinherited his sons Graeham and Roger after they blamed him for the death of their younger brother Ollie in 2019.
The artist, best known for his six-ton bronze bull sculpture – which has been cited as one of the top ten public works of art in the world – also changed the locks on the family home so no sons could get inside, a court heard.
The once close family had once worked together, with older son Graeham working alongside his father and mother to finish, market and sell Laurence’s art.
But they fell out in 2018 when Laurence’s wife was diagnosed Alzheimer and the couple’s youngest son, Ollie, died a year later, Laurence being blamed for his death by his other two sons. London‘s High Court heard.
Laurence responded by cutting his two remaining sons from his life, the court was told – and freezing Graeham from the family business, which has focused on his art.
Graeham then sued his father, claiming that his parents owed him up to £5million for being an equal member of a business ‘partnership’ with his mother and father for 20 years.
Father and son have now agreed on a settlement and dropped the court case.
Laurence Broderick, 87, who created ‘The Bull’ at Birmingham’s Bull Ring, has fallen out with his sons in a £5million court battle after leaving them out of his will and leaving everything to the National Trust
Graeham Broderick told Judge David Halpern QC on the witness stand that he was “upset and disappointed” in his artist father and insisted “we were kind and decent sons”. Pictured are Graeham (left) and Roger outside the High Court in London
Graeham had claimed he was the legal owner of a one-third interest in that partnership of all the “partnership assets” which he said included his father’s artwork and valuable copyrights, as well as land in Bedfordshire and the Isle of Skye.
The case reached court last week when Graeham told Judge David Halpern QC from the witness stand that he was “upset and disappointed” in his artist father and insisted “we were kind and decent sons”.
Laurence Broderick is a renowned sculptor specializing in figural carvings in stone and cast bronze, often with a natural theme.
His most famous work is The Bull, a public sculpture erected in 2003 at the Bullring shopping center in Birmingham, which was named one of the top ten public works of art in the world.
Laurence Broderick’s most famous work is The Bull, a public sculpture installed in Birmingham’s Bullring shopping center in 2003, which was named one of the top ten public works of art in the world. file image
Born in Bristol, Laurence visited the Isle of Skye with his young family in 1978 where he saw his first wild otter, which was the subject of much of his later work.
Thereafter, Skye became his second home and he held annual sculpture exhibitions on the island for 26 years.
He now splits his time between studios on Skye and Waresley in Bedfordshire.
Graeham sued his father, telling the judge he had helped make the sculptures since 1991 and was in a formal business partnership with his parents from 1999 until the “traumatic” dispute in 2019.
He worked up to 50 hours a week year-round, he said, with just three weeks off.
“I never thought I would find myself in this situation. I trusted my parents,” he told the judge.
David Parratt, solicitor for Graeham, told the judge that under the rules of the partnership, the two properties his father uses as artists’ studios in Skye and Waresley are one-third owned by his son, along with an equal share in his father’s art and the profits of the art business up to 2019.
The attorney shed light on the family breakdown and told the judge that Graham’s evidence should be preferred to his father’s.
“The breakdown of family relationships; the deaths of Ollie, Graeham and Roger’s anger at the circumstances and the blame for it on Laurence by forcibly taking Ollie to Skye; the frailty and incapacity of Ingrid and her sons’ concern for her welfare, resulting in attempted interference with her care; and Laurence’s feelings of being attacked by his two sons all inform Laurence’s motives and motivation for this action,” he said.
“It is brought forward that these should be hostile, vindictive, and hateful, and leave none of his wealth and possessions to his two sons. For that reason, his evidence should be treated with caution,” he told the judge.
Graeham added from the witness stand: “My father changed the locks on the family home so neither I nor Roger could gain entry which was very traumatic.
“There was nothing wrong with the locks. My father just asked for the locks to be changed.”
Graeham went on to sue his father, claiming that his parents owed him up to £5million for being an equal member of a business “partnership” with his mother and father for 20 years. Pictured is Laurence Broderick’s studio in Waresle, Bedfordshire
Damian Falkowski, for Laurence, asked him: “You know your father changed his will to leave everything to the National Trust. You must be very upset about that. Has that anger influenced your thinking about this partnership claim?’
Graeham denied that the will situation had any bearing on the partnership dispute, but admitted he felt strong emotions about it.
“It’s very disturbing, yes,” he said.
“We were kind, decent sons. That’s not very nice for a father.
“I am very sad and upset and disappointed in my father. The only people he surrounds himself with now are the ones he pays for. He rejected all his family and friends.’
Mr. Falkowski argued that the artworks, studio ownership and copyrights are not owned by the partnership, but are part of Laurence’s “temporarily loaned partnership” capital assets.
Laurence Broderick’s studio on the Isle of Skye. He has held annual sculpture exhibitions on the island for the past 26 years
He also denied there was any partnership surrounding his artwork that his son was a part of.
For Graeham to have become a “co-author” of one of his father’s works, he would have had to “contribute significantly to intellectual creation,” he added.
“It is not enough for him to do routine work that does not contribute to intellectual creation, so laborious and even if the work done is necessary for the sculptures to be sold as finished works of art,” says the lawyer.
He told Graeham his father had “always been a powerful character”.
“He had his way and it went the way he wanted. You always had to ask his permission,” he said.
“I’ve always directed everything from my father out of respect,” Graeham replied, also later telling the judge that he was “not a liar.”
The case’s trial was supposed to take four days, but at the end of a half-day hearing, where Roger agreed to testify in support of Graeham, father and son settled on a settlement to end conflict in the partnership early.
Details of the comparison have not yet been released.