Longtime attorney-to-the-stars Henry Baskin dies at 88

Henry Baskin, one of Detroit’s most prominent entertainment and divorce lawyers for the past six decades who represented Motown stars, media legends, and industry captains, died Saturday. He was 88.

Baskin’s death was confirmed to Crain by his son Marc Baskin. Marc Baskin said he had heart problems in the past few weeks, but until recently he was still doing legal work.

Baskin made a long mark on the Metro Detroit entertainment industry, representing a who’s who of Detroit broadcasting history, including legendary Detroit television host Bill Bonds, weatherman Jerry Hodak, and radio station Dick Purtan.

Baskin entered the legal profession in 1958 and entered the entertainment business in the early 1960s when he represented Motown founder Berry Gordy’s sister, Anna Gordy, in court. Anna Gordy was married to singer Marvin Gaye and the two became friends, said Marc Baskin.

Baskin was Gaye’s lawyer for 20 years, and Gaye introduced him to other Motown greats, including Smokey Robinson, Temptations, including Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, and the band Rare Earth. He also represented out-of-town acts including the Rolling Stones and The Who when they played in Detroit, his son said.

Other notable clients included Detroit cable entrepreneur Don Barden, whom Baskin represented in his divorce. He also represented the estate of Detroit Pistons and Guardian Industries owner William Davidson.

In 2012, Baskin donated a collection of platinum and gold plates from Motown greats like Gaye and Kendricks to the Detroit Historical Society.

Baskin’s pro bono work was less well known. Baskin represented a group of orphaned Vietnamese children on a pro bono basis who came to the United States as refugees after the war ended in 1975, his son said; he also represented a white family who, because of their race, had been denied the opportunity to adopt a black foster child.

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