An Update On Two Art Cases In the News: Trial Postponed in Christie’s Diamond Case, While Fraud Case Against Wildenstein Proceeds
12/02/2019This fall has seen developments in two cases we’ve been following. Each case raises unique substantive legal issues, but the recent developments also serve to highlight the costs and complexity of litigating art disputes in court.
Court Rules Collector Can Proceed With Claims Against Jeff Koons LLC and Gagosian Gallery Over Failure to Deliver Three Koons Works
09/26/2019We wrote last year about a suit filed in New York state court (see No. 651889/2018, N.Y. Co.) by a disgruntled art collector seeking redress for the problems he has allegedly encountered in trying to purchase three sculptures by famed artist Jeff Koons. Last month, a court ruled that the collector’s claims can proceed to the next phase of litigation.
Grossman LLP Defeats Efforts to Dismiss Collector’s Replevin Claims Against London Dealers
08/01/2019More than a year has passed since New York dealer Ezra Chowaiki pled guilty to federal charges related to his misconduct in cheating numerous clients in fraudulent art deals. But the legal fallout continues. Many of his victims and business associates have asserted claims (for money or art) in connection with the bankruptcy of his gallery, Chowaiki & Co., as well as in federal forfeiture proceedings that allow claimants to assert their rights to artworks ordered forfeited to the government as part of Chowaiki’s guilty plea.
Lawsuit Against Gallery and Café Over Sale Proceeds Cites New York’s Legal Protections For Artists
06/10/2019Last week, an artist sued a Manhattan café and gallery in connection with a dispute over the treatment of and sales of her artworks. The lawsuit highlights some specific aspects of New York law that may provide artists with legal protections tailored to the unique, and sometimes difficult, relationship between artists and the galleries who sell their work.
Knoedler’s Holding Company and Its Sole Shareholder Face Potential Liability In Connection With Forgeries Following Recent Ruling; Trials Set For This Summer
05/23/2019This blog has for years followed the Knoedler scandal, in which a venerable New York gallery closed in disgrace in 2011 following revelations that it had sold dozens of artworks—about $60 million worth of paintings purported to be by Rothko, Pollock, Motherwell, and other major Abstract Expressionists—that turned out to be forgeries. And the fallout from Knoedler’s implosion is ongoing even now; just this month, a federal judge issued a decision with important implications for the upcoming trials in two Knoedler cases. The ruling also is of general interest to anyone in the art business because it emphasizes the importance of clear business procedures, corporate oversight and legal formalities when it comes to closely held business entities.
Trust Sues Wildenstein & Co. Over 1985 Sale of Inauthentic Bonnard Work
A trust entity affiliated with prominent art collector Neil Wallace has sued a prominent art gallery over a 1985 sale of a work that was only recently discovered to be fake. The case will likely explore issues related to timeliness in art disputes, as well as questions related to the diligence required by buyers and sellers of artworks.
Collector Sues London Art Gallery for Failing to Disclose Price History of Two Paintings
02/20/2019A lawsuit pending in the United Kingdom continues the ongoing debate about how much due diligence buyers must perform when purchasing artwork, including whether such buyers must investigate price histories.
Lawsuit By Gallery Against Former Employee Raises Questions About Confidential Information In The Art Trade
02/15/2019A contentious lawsuit is underway between a Manhattan art gallery and its former director over her handling of purportedly-confidential information when she quit her job to accept a position at another gallery. The case raises potentially important questions about one of the key assets of any art business—information about its customers and contacts.
Court Dismisses Artist’s $100 Million Antitrust Suit Against Prominent Museums
01/21/2019One artist’s crusade against what he perceives to be anticompetitive behavior in the New York art world has come to an end—at least for now—as a federal judge dismissed his antitrust claims against five museums.
Grossman LLP Obtains Favorable Decision In Case Involving Stolen Jasper Johns Works; Gallery’s Claims Will Proceed
01/26/2018Canadian art gallery Equinox Gallery Limited (“Equinox”) will be allowed to move forward with its lawsuit against art dealer Fred Dorfman following a favorable decision from a federal judge this week. Grossman LLP is representing Equinox in the case.
Ownership Dispute Reveals Continuing Effects of Madoff Scandal on Art World
10/17/2017A lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal district court last week reveals how Bernard Madoff’s nearly decade-old Ponzi scheme continues to reverberate, even in the art world.
Photographer’s Infringement Claims Against Richard Prince Clear Motion-to-Dismiss Hurdle; Two “New Portraits” Lawsuits Will Move On To Discovery
10/09/2017Famed artist Richard Prince is no stranger to litigation; over the years, he’s been sued by multiple plaintiffs whose art he has incorporated into his own “appropriation art” works. A few years ago, he was the defendant in the Cariou v. Prince case, which resulted in an important Second Circuit Opinion about the fair-use defense to copyright infringement.
Recent Legal Developments Regarding Forgeries Serve As Warnings To Collectors
05/04/2017 | By Kate LucasWe have continuously followed stories in the news and in the courts about the continuing efforts of the art market to deal with the problem of forgeries. From the Knoedler scandal to the concerns about counterfeit Old Masters being peddled on the European market, this issue is clearly not going away anytime soon. Today, we take note of developments in three more cases that shine a spotlight on this ongoing challenge.
Antiques Dealer Ordered to Pay $1.1 Million Over Sale of Fake Renoir
04/06/2017New York gallery owner Alex Komolov has emerged victorious in litigation against antiques dealer Jack Shaoul arising out of the sale of a fake Renoir. Komolov, owner of the Alskom Gallery, sued Shaoul in 2013 for unjust enrichment, conversion, and fraudulent misrepresentation, claiming that the dealer sold him a forged Renoir painting for $1.1million in 2010. After trial, a jury awarded Komolov the full purchase price plus interest. According to Komolov’s attorney, Shaoul previously served 40 months in prison for mail and wire fraud and conspiracy, including misattribution of a painting.
Art Market Conference Seeks to Address Problems of Illicit Trafficking
01/30/2017A recent conference in Geneva reflects an attempt by private art-market actors to raise awareness and address the problems of illicit trafficking of art and antiquities. While such illegal activity in the art market is hardly limited to Switzerland, the nation’s freeports and custom-free zones make it particularly vulnerable to attempts to circumvent international laws. And the Geneva Freeport specifically is reeling from recent negative publicity—including the feud between Yves Bouvier and Dmitry Rybolovlev, the discovery of an allegedly Nazi-looted Modigliani painting, and the seizure of looted Syrian antiquities.
Forgery Case Highlights Importance of Pre-Sale Diligence
01/27/2017Andrew Hall, a hedge-fund manager and art collector, filed suit against Lorettann Gascard, a former art-history professor at Franklin Pierce University, and her son, Nikolas, alleging that the Gascards sold him twenty-four artworks by the famed artist Leon Golub that actually were forgeries. The Gascards are now firing back that Hall alone should be held responsible for his failure to conduct adequate pre-sale diligence; a common refrain among accused fraudsters looking to cast blame back on sophisticated art collectors, like Hall.
Prince’s Disavowal of Ivanka Trump Work Raises Questions About An Artist’s Role In Defining His Oeuvre
01/17/2017Richard Prince is no stranger to controversy; indeed, it’s arguably an essential element of his art. We’ve written in recent years about several copyright infringement cases against Prince involving his practice of “appropriation” of others’ artworks as part of his own.
Another Richard Prince Lawsuit
12/05/2016Richard Prince has had a busy year on the litigation front. We’ve previously written about the copyright claims photographer Donald Graham filed last winter against Prince and the Gagosian Gallery over Prince’s use of Instagram images in his 2014-15 “New Portraits” exhibition. A motion to dismiss that case on fair use grounds is currently pending.
Court Allows Most of Buyer's Claims to Proceed In Lawsuit Over Koons Sculpture
11/04/2016Over the summer, we reported on a lawsuit against the David Zwirner Gallery filed by a disgruntled collector who had paid $2 million for a Jeff Koons sculpture that the gallery never delivered. This week, a New York state court rejected Zwirner’s attempt to dismiss the suit; allowing several of the claims against Zwirner to proceed.
Former Knoedler Director Ann Freedman Reaches Another Settlement
10/26/2016This blog—like the rest of the art world—has closely followed the legal developments that continue to unfold in the wake of the Knoedler scandal, which exploded in 2011 when one of New York’s oldest art galleries closed following revelations that it had sold dozens of artworks (over the course more than a decade, in deals totaling about $60 million)—purported to be by Rothko, Pollock, Motherwell, and other famed Abstract Expressionists—that later turned out to be forgeries.
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