Could all of Bill Cosby‘s legal woes finally be catching up with his finances, which at one time was among the most lucrative in all of entertainment? The disgraced comedian and his wife, Camille, sold one “iconic painting” from the couple’s world-renowned art collection earlier this year and have “pledged another” to serve as “collateral for a loan from an art finance firm,” according to a report from Bloomberg published Friday morning.
The paintings were by Thomas Hart Benton, whose artwork was priced anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000 on auction house Christie’s website. However, the painting that was sold — “Going West” — and the other one pending — “The Instruction” — were considered to be among Benton’s crowning artistic achievements, sending their combined value soaring to as high as $14 million, an art gallery owner told Bloomberg.
The underlying implications were that the man who just months ago had a reported net worth of about $400 million could be looking to unload some or all of his valuable art collection to make some fast money. While no reasons for the sale and loan were provided — “Andrew Wyatt, a spokesman for the Cosbys, said he hadn’t been aware of their art sale and declined to comment” — Time reported after his conviction in April that Cosby was “facing financial ruin” from legal fees and possible and pending civil suits from accusers.
Some irony can be found in this latest update to Cosby’s downfall, as it was during an interview with the Associated Press that was supposed to only be about his art collection when a reporter asked him and his wife a question about being accused of drugging and groping women.
Things only got worse for Cosby from there, starting with his indictment, arrest, first trial that ended with a hung jury, a retrial that returned a guilty verdict and a prison sentence months later in September.
Cosby’s revolving team of lawyers has argued for his immediate release because the judge presiding over the trial “kept the truth from being disclosed.” But that possibility seems far-fetched at best as Cosby was facing lawsuits not just from alleged victims but also from some of his former lawyers, who have claimed he owes nearly $283,000 in unpaid legal fees and were seeking a late fee of 1.5%.
Only time will tell how this plays out and whether Cosby was trying to sell his artwork out of convenience or necessity. However, compounded with the reports of Camille wanting a divorce, the optics surrounding what could turn out to be a glorified liquidation sale don’t bode well for the state of the couple’s financial health.