"[S]ome in the art world desire a market that is neither open nor honest."

So notes federal district court Judge William H. Pauley III in an opinion denying the request by Craig Robins to prevent the sale of three works which he was not allowed to buy.  Robins alleged that art dealer David Zwirner had effectively blacklisted him from buying other works by Marlene Dumas.  From Randy Kennedy’s summary:

The collector, Craig Robins, asserts in a lawsuit that he sold a painting by Ms. Dumas through the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea in 2004 with an agreement that the sale remain confidential. But the gallery, which took over representation of Ms. Dumas in 2008, told her about it, Mr. Robins asserts, causing her to add his name to the blacklist, even though he has an extensive collection of her works, 29 in all, according to the suit. In court testimony, Ms. Dumas’s former dealer confirmed that the artist maintains a blacklist of collectors and dealers whom she believes to be speculating in her works or simply selling them too quickly after buying them. Mr. Robins says that the Zwirner gallery promised to help get him off the blacklist and to sell him new paintings but that the gallery failed to do so. The gallery has denied the claims.

Ed Winkleman argues this might have all been avoided with the introduction of droit de suite in New York:

In situations such as the one that led to the Robins-Zwirner lawsuit, droit de suite would work well for galleries too. If the law required collectors to share the profits from any resale, the gallery would not get caught between the furtive goals of the collector and the wishes of their artist. Indeed, in most resale arrangements all three parties (collector, gallery and artist) could be motivated to work together to ensure each makes the most money possible. 

  1. Randy Kennedy, Collector’s Motion for Court Order Against Gallery Is Denied – ArtsBeat Blog – NYTimes.com, http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/21/art-collector-fails-to-get-court-order-against-gallery/?ref=design (last visited May 24, 2010).
  2. Helen Stoilas & Marisa Mazria Katz, Judge denies collector’s injunction against dealer The Art Newspaper, http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Judge-denies-collector-s-injunction-against-dealer/20893 (last visited May 24, 2010).
  3. Edward Winkelman, The case for droit de suite in New York | The Art Newspaper, http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/The-case-for-droit-de-suite-in-New-York/20673 (last visited May 24, 2010).
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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