S.F. museum collection safe for now

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The M.H. de Young Memorial Museum's matchless collection of art from Papua New Guinea appears to be safe from the auction block for at least three months, regardless of a family's inheritance fight that threatens to have artwork seized and sold.

John Friede, the de Young Museum trustee who pledged his 4,000-piece collection to the museum in a series of deals from 2003 to 2007, said today that he has no intention of turning the artwork over to his brothers, despite a Florida probate court's order to do so.

A San Francisco judge, at the request of City Attorney Dennis Herrera, issued a contradicting order on Friday, directing the artwork to remain where it is.

"Right now, the two courts offset each other, so I don't have to do anything. I'm frozen," Friede said from his home outside New York City. "These are ugly matters and I certainly hope that they resolve in a way that everyone in the family can be happy together."

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