Saturday, December 06, 2008

Another Minor Suit

Collector Halsey Minor, already engaged in a lawsuit with Sotheby's, has now sued Christie's too. The Charlottesville Daily Progress reports:

"Minor filed suit against art auctioneer Christie’s Inc. on Wednesday in San Francisco, alleging that the New York-based company had hindered his sale of seven Richard Price paintings worth an estimated $25 million.

"The lawsuit ... says that Christie’s was holding the paintings for Minor for a possible consignment sale, but refused to return them when he requested them back, beginning in May and ending in November.

"'Christie’s offered a series of shifting excuses and conditions that it demanded be satisfied before the artworks would be returned,' it said. 'Only after Minor threatened legal action did Christie’s drop these spurious excuses and conditions, and unconditionally return the artworks. But by then the damage was done. During the intervening months in which Christie’s had refused their return, the artworks fell precipitously in value.

"The lawsuit accuses Christie’s of breach of implied contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud, among other allegations.

"In response, a Christie’s Inc. spokeswoman disputed the lawsuit claims in a statement Friday afternoon. The New York-based company, she said, intends to fight back.

"'We believe this lawsuit has no merit and we will defend Christie’s vigorously,' the statement said. 'Furthermore, we intend to sue Mr. Minor for the $10 million-plus that he owes Christie’s, as well as related legal fees.'"