Spots of a Different Color: Gagosian Sued for Selling Lichtenstein without Owner’s Consent

Bullet Shih Jan, 2012 0
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The New York Times has reported that mega art dealer Larry Gagosian who has blanketed the world with Damien Hirst’s spot paintings has found himself in a tricky spot for allegedly selling the spotted painting by Litchenstein, Girl in Mirror without the owner’s consent.  The case pits David Baum, the lawyer handling the estate of Jan Cowles who is 93 and suffering from dementia against her son, Charles Cowles the former owner of his eponymous Soho and Chelsea gallery as well as the former editor of Art Forum Magazine and super gallerist Larry Gagosian.  It appears that Cowles who fell into trouble in 2008 before shuttering his gallery in 2009 due to financial hardship, offered his mother’s painting to Gagosian to sell in 2008 without her permission.  In a twist, the Times writes,

The suit contends that Mr. Gagosian later fraudulently claimed that the painting was damaged and sold it to an unnamed collector for $2 million, less than its market value, taking a $1 million commission on the sale. The suit, which asks for punitive damages of $10 million, accuses Mr. Gagosian of “such wanton dishonesty as to imply criminal indifference to civil obligations, with reckless disregard of Mrs. Cowles’s rights.”

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