Saturday, November 07, 2009

"Seung's blind reliance on Dinaburg's alleged statements of the painting's value is not reasonable as a matter of law"

I've been meaning to mention the recent NY state court decision dismissing a claim by a collector who bought a Julian Schnabel painting for $380,000 from a dealer who allegedly said it was worth "at least $500,000" when its true market value "was no more than $110,000." (Among other things, it had sold "months earlier" at Philips for $156,000 (against an estimate of $60-80,000).)

The decision proceeded on basic caveat emptor grounds. "A party is not justified in relying on any alleged misrepresentations if the facts were not peculiarly within the other party's knowledge and the party had the means to discover the truth by the exercise of ordinary intelligence." "Seung does not allege that she made any effort to ascertain the value of the painting prior to its sale." "Seung alleges nothing more than a relationship of art buyer and art seller, which does not rise to the level of a special realtionship [required for a negligent misrepresentation claim]." "Seung could not have reasonably relied on statements regarding the painting's value when she made no effort to independently ascertain its value."

Greg Allen comments: "if Seung's case is meaningful, it's only as a reminder to collectors to do their own damn homework; the NY Supreme Court determined that art advisors and even dealers are not 'experts,' and their opinions are just sales patter which constitutes, at best, 'non-actionable 'puffery'...on which a sophisticated commercial entity could not reasonably rely."