Monday, March 14, 2016

Disaster averted

A couple years ago, I mentioned a New York state court decision that "could wreak some serious havoc on the world of authentication litigation."  Briefly, the First Department had held that, unless a plaintiff can produce an expert who examined the work before he bought the work and can testify that it’s the same work that he now has in his possession, he would lose.

Now, in a subsequent decision in the same lawsuit, the First Department narrows that rule to the specific (odd) facts of this case:

"Contrary to defendants' contention, our decision need not have disastrous effects on the art market. We limit both this decision and our decision on the prior appeal to the facts of this case, i.e., a situation where defendants did not claim until many years after the sale and consignment that the artworks were forged, and they were unable to produce the people who had custody of the art between the time defendants sold it and the time they returned some of it to the United States; and plaintiff claimed that defendants, or the non-produced custodians of the art, forged it; and the custodians resided in a country that did not abide by the Hague Convention, so that plaintiff was unable to obtain evidence from them."

So if you've got a case with facts like that, you're in trouble.  Otherwise, as you were.