Case Involving Richard Prince Painting, Michael Ovitz, and Perry Rubenstein Comes to NY Court

art-shipping-suitHong Kong corporation Art Advisory Limited filed suit yesterday in New York state court against Perry Rubenstein and his namesake Hollywood gallery, along with New York-based fine art shipping company Dietl International Services for the return of a painting by Richard Prince, which it claims it purchased and paid for. The suit claims among other things breach of contract, fraud, and conversion.

The dispute began on November 27, when Hollywood mogul Michael Ovitz, founder of Creative Artists Agency, sued Perry Rubenstein Gallery in a Los Angeles court for the improper sale of two Prince works owned by Ovitz, including the 1992 work “Nobody’s Home.”

In that complaint, Ovitz claimed that the Perry Rubenstein Gallery communicated to him that it had sold the 1992 work “Nobody’s Home” for an amount less than they had agreed upon, and that the gallery had not given the collector his share of the deal.

Ovitz also claimed the gallery had failed to pay him the proceeds on a second work, “Untitled (de Kooning)” (2006), which it sold in May. In that case, Ovitz sought the return of the works as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

In the New York case, the plaintiff contends that it bought the painting in October from Perry Rubenstein Gallery for $475,000, that the painting was fully paid for on November 7, and on November 8, it paid for the cost of shipping the painting to New York. The shipping company, defendant Dietl International, is currently holding the painting.

The plaintiff contends that it is a “good faith purchaser” of the painting and that Perry Rubenstein Gallery has instructed the shippers not to hand over the painting, thereby preventing plaintiff from taking possession of it, claiming that there are competing claims for its ownership (as in the claim by Ovitz).

Ovitz, a notable collector who has acquired works by Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, and Mark Rothko, claimed in his suit that the gallery agreed not to sell the painting for less than $575,000, and that the sale at the “deeply discounted price” hurt the work’s value.

As for why the plaintiff chose to sue Dietl International in a New York court when the shipping company has a Los Angeles office, and the other two defendants are Los-Angeles-based, Richard Golub, plaintiff’s attorney, had no comment.

— Rozalia Jovanovic (@Ruschka)