‘Legs’ Owners Plead Guilty in Court

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The Larry Rivers 'Legs' sculpture on the side of the Vered/Lehr residence in Sag Harbor. Michael Heller photo

Guilty pleas were entered in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court on August 23 to “two sets of tickets” for zoning violations against Madison Street homeowners Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr for keeping the Larry Rivers “Legs” sculpture erected adjacent to their Madison Street house despite a 2017 court decision that affirmed Sag Harbor Village’s position that the “Legs” are an illegal accessory structure, according to Stephen Grossman, their attorney. He said his clients were fined $200.

Despite a written request for the case file, confirmation from the Justice Court could not be obtained by press time.

A cause célèbrefor pitting free artistic expression against government regulation, the case is not likely to end quietly with the guilty pleas. Now that the pending Justice Court matter has been resolved, Mr. Grossman said, he wants to present a proposal to the Village Board of Trustees to resolve the matter once and for all. He declined to discuss it in an interview except to say that a change in the zoning code “would be appropriate, especially in a village that purports to be friendly to artists.”

Mr. Grossman said the board had refused to hear from him on the matter until the Justice Court case was concluded.

The 16-foot-high fiberglass statue is not currently at the home — the sculpture was sent out earlier this summer for cleaning and restoration after it was vandalized in June of 2017.

“It will be replaced when it’s cleaned up,” Ms. Lehr said in early July. “The legal situation is an offense to the law. Art is art. Structure is structure. They can’t be conflated.” Ms. Lehr and Ms. Vered first installed the “Legs” in 2008. Controversy soon followed, as some neighbors objected and pressed for enforcement of the zoning code.

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”