Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Boldly Go

I've been meaning to mention this Appellate Division decision affirming the dismissal of a claim against Christie's by a disappointed buyer of Star Trek memorabilia. You can read some background on the claim here. The buyer was held bound by Christie's Conditions of Sale, which in this case (1) "expressly declared that 'all property is sold as is' without any representation or warranty of any kind by Christie's or the seller" (typically not the case for fine art auctions, which come with a warranty of authenticity) and (2) "contractually precluded" him "from pursuing the massive recovery he now demands" because "the only remedy available to him thereunder would be a refund of the sale price(s) upon return of the item(s), a limitation generally permissible in contracts for the sale of goods" (a limitation which typically does apply in the fine art context).

The court also ruled that there was no claim under NY General Business Law sections 349 and 350 because "a party seeking those remedies must charge conduct that is consumer oriented, with an impact on the public at large." Similarly, punitive damages were unavailble since "the misconduct alleged here, which arises from a private contract, does not resemble the egregious wrongdoing that could be considered part of a pattern directed at the public generally."