Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Warner Foundation Seeks Judgment against Westervelt Company

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Warner Foundation Seeks Judgment against Westervelt Company

Article excerpt

The Warner Foundation, headed by Jack and Susan Warner, has filed suit against the Westervelt Company, seeking to resolve ownership of a list of items, including frames, chandeliers, candlesticks and other furnishings and works of art.

A complaint for declaratory judgment was filed March 29 in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court by the law firm of Mountain, Baird and Mountain on behalf of the foundation. Jack Warner is the founder and former chairman and CEO of Gulf States Paper, now known as the Westervelt Company.

The foundation claims the items in question were purchased by Jack Warner personally or were gifts to him. The Westervelt Company claims the items were purchased with corporate funds.

"These are things that have been in question: Are they Jack's personal items, or the Foundation's personal items, or do they belong to Westervelt?" said Delaine Mountain, an attorney for the foundation. He said there was some urgency to the complaint.

"Westervelt had asked (the Warners) to return certain items by a certain date, and said if they didn't, that (Westervelt) would be filing suit," Mountain said. "The deadline just happened to come very shortly after I was hired. We tried to get (Westervelt) to extend that deadline," but were unsuccessful.

Westervelt's Marketing Manager Robby Johnson responded in an email, saying "The Westervelt Company does not comment on matters engaged within the legal system."

Many of the items are relatively modest in value, unlike some of the masterworks of the art world that Warner collected.

"A lot of them have sentimental value," Mountain said. "Like the walking cane listed; it's the one Jack uses."

In 2011, the Westervelt Company took advantage of a one-year- only tax break to raise capital by selling pieces from the art collection amassed by Warner during his years at Gulf States.

Sold artworks included some of the most valued paintings worth tens of millions of dollars.

While actively collecting art, Warner bought some of the several hundred works of art, furnishings and more with corporate funds, some with Warner Foundation money, and some with his personal funds. …

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