Wednesday 16 March 2011

The Innocent Art Sale Test

Above: "The Innocent Eye Test", a comment on the art world?

Late last week, an art collector, Robert Wylde, filed a lawsuit against the Gagosian Gallery in New York. The lawsuit has it roots in 2009, when Mr Wylde purchased a Mark Tansey painting called ‘The Innocent Eye Test’ from the gallery for US$2.5 million. Mr Wylde claims that the Gagosian did not tell him at the time that the Metropolitan Museum in New York already owned 31% of the work and had been promised the painting would eventually be gifted to the museum in full.

Wylde still has possession of the painting and is reportedly seeking several million dollars in damages.  The suit also contends that the gallery had agreed to sell Mr Wylde a Richard Prince painting for $2.2 million in 2009 but cancelled the sale when it got a higher offer.

According to the New York Times, the Gagosian has stated that owner, Charles Cowles, "represented that he had clear title to the painting, which was viewed for sale in his apartment, and the gallery acted in good faith at all times in selling the painting."

When Cowles was contacted by the New York Times, he admitted that the mix-up was his fault: "One day I saw it on the wall and thought, 'Hey, I could use money,' and so I decided to sell it… And now it's a big mess."

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