The city is suing a New Jersey man and Christie's auction house for $1MM over 86 drawings (mostly) by Jacob Wrey Mould, who designed the Bethesda Fountain and Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Sam Buckley says he inherited the watercolors from his father, who found them in a dumpster about 50 years ago. Buckley brought the pieces to Christie's, and the auction house now holds them—however, earlier this week a Manhattan judge ordered them to refrain selling the drawings while the two sides are in settlement talks, according to the Daily News.
In their legal papers, the city says "the drawings are 19th-century, elaborate color illustrations of designs for city parks and park features. Most were created and hand-signed by Jacob Wrey Mould, one of the city’s most famous architects and designers. The drawings are both works of art and records of the city’s cultural history, and they are therefore unique and irreplaceable." Amongst the plans include one for an Abraham Lincoln memorial in Union Square Park that Mould designed five years after the president’s assassination.
The drawings are dated between 1860 and 1900, and the NY Post reports that the city's papers also say the "drawings were created for the city, stamped ‘Department of Public Parks,’ and labeled with a case and map number for repository storage," making them city property.