Friday, October 03, 2008

"Ogunsanya was an unsophisticated memorabilia collector who simply bought a trunk at storage house auction"

A motion to dismiss was denied [$] last week in the case of the memorabilia collector who claims he was duped into selling a bunch of previously unknown Diane Arbus photographs for $3,500. See earlier posts here, here, and here (where I noted that "the buyer's lawyer calls the suit 'frivolous,' but if the plaintiff can show that the buyer did in fact know the works were by Arbus, he would seem to have a pretty good claim of 'unilateral mistake'").

This strikes me as the key point: summarizing the allegations in the complaint (which on a motion to dismiss it accepts as true), the court notes, "Shortly before filing suit, Ogunsanya learned that Langmuir knew back in 2002 that he was purchasing extraordinarily valuable works of art by Diane Arbus. Langmuir admitted to a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter that he knew the photographs were rare Diane Arbus prints before the second transaction with Ogunsanya. Langmuir told the reporter that at the time of the second transaction, he tried to 'stay calm,' but he was 'burning up.'"

That must be a reference to this story, from February of this year. It begins by talking about how he bought a circus trunk in 2003 containing "what he felt were rare Arbus prints." It then mentions that he showed them to a photography curator at the Met, who wasn't sure. And then it says:

"Meanwhile, Langmuir learned there was much more to the collection. He returned to Brooklyn, and the dealer - a Nigerian named Okie - handed him a second envelope of photos. Langmuir tried to stay calm. He was burning up. He peeked inside, and saw 19 more prints, and a note, written in the same handwriting he'd found in Lucas' address books: 'Pictures enclosed for you, Suzie and Dingo. (Went to Amusements of America Carnival in Hagerstown, MD. I saw my first geek.) Diane.' That was the Eureka! moment."

That's going to be a tough admission to overcome.