Gallery Sells Warhol Without Owners Permission

Here is an interesting case to watch, as reported by the Courthouse News.  A couple left an Andy Warhol Red Shoes painting with a Scottsdale art gallery for them to store/exhibit, but not sell. It appears all parties had agreed to this, although what paperwork was completed is not know or released.

The Gallery, American Fine Art Editions, according to the Courthouse News is being sued by the owners of the painting, who purchased the painting from the gallery for $65,000 in 2005. The gallery has offered to pay the owners the 2005 purchase price, and the owners claim the painting is more valuable.  Sounds like they will need an appraisal.  The gallery has also refused to release to the owners any information on the sale.

The Courthouse News reports
PHOENIX (CN) - A Scottsdale art gallery sold an Andy Warhol "Red Shoes" painting it was storing for a couple despite being told it could not sell the piece, the couple claims in court.

Amy Koler and Stephen Meyer sued American Fine Art Editions, Phillip Koss, Jacqueline Carroll, and Jeff Dippold in Maricopa County Court, alleging conversion and breach of fiduciary duty.

Koler and Meyer say they bought the Warhol from American Fine Art Editions in 2005 for $65,000.

"The piece, known to the plaintiffs as the 'Red Shoes' piece, bore Mr. Warhol's signature on the back and a stamp verifying authenticity from the Andy Warhol Foundation," the complaint states. "The piece was from a collection of works featuring women's shoes sprinkled with diamond dust."

In 2009, Koler and Meyer decided to move to St. Petersburg, Fla. and to keep much of their artwork in a home in Arizona, but sought to store the "Red Shoes" piece.

Koss - American Fine Art's gallery manager - and gallery employee Dippold "suggested that plaintiffs keep the Red Shoes piece at AFAE's gallery and an arrangement by which AFAE would agree to store and insure the piece through AFAE's business insurance in return for plaintiffs' agreement that AFAE could display the piece and use it to help market sales of other similar works. The defendants knew from their discussions with plaintiffs that plaintiffs intended to keep ownership of the piece and not to sell it," according to the complaint.

Koler and Meyer say they spoke with Dippold a number of times over the years, and he failed to mention any plans to sell the piece, and they repeatedly told him they were not interested in selling it.

They travelled to the gallery in Scottsdale this year, and found that the defendants had sold the Warhol.

"Defendant Dippold claimed that the defendants sold the 'Red Shoes' piece 'months ago,' and asked, 'didn't Phil call you?'" the complaint states. "The plaintiffs, understandably upset, expressed their disbelief that the defendants had violated their agreement and had sold the plaintiffs' property without authority and then left the gallery."

Koler says she returned to the gallery the next day to speak with Koss, who despite being in the building, did not meet with her face-to-face but called her from a phone.

Koss and Dippold said the sale had taken place months ago, but refused to show her any documents from the sale, even the price, the complaint claims.

When Koler asked Dippold about the defendants' lack of honesty, he allegedly said, "it's just business."

Dippold offered to pay $65,000 - the amount the plaintiffs paid for the piece, but its value today is far higher, Koler and Meyer say.

They want the "Red Shoes" back, and damages for conversion, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, fraud and unjust enrichment.

American Fine Art Editions did not respond to a request for comment.

Koler and Meyer and represented are represented by William Richards with Baskin Richards.
Source: Courthouse News

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