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Billionaires Should Know Better

  • News
December 18, 2014

The art world, as any other field of visual culture in connection to business, isn’t immune to wrongdoings and lawful misconduct… After all, illegal activity resides in the core of street art. However, this is not what we are referring to here. We are talking about issues in relation to acquiring art… This summer, we had written about the alleged illegal appropriation of creative work which had included artists themselves (read more our articles Terry Gilliam sued by Jaz, Ever and Other and Graffiti Artists Sue Cavalli). This story, though, is about art collectors…

Larry Gagosian

It’s About Popeye

Mirror polished stainless steel with transparent color coating depicting the American popular culture symbol – Popeye – has become one of the more recognizable works by Jeff Koons. The statue is a signed and numbered edition of three pieces from the time period 2009-2011. However, there were some other discourses appearing recently in public which hadn’t been directly related to the creative process or the artist’s practice. One is in close relation to the appearing of the piece at a Sotheby’s auction this spring (read more in Mysterious Popeye). The other concerns the relation between respected art admirers and art collectors…

Jeff Koons – Popeye

The Context of The Story

There are so many variables to take into consideration when one aspires to unravel the mysteries and complexities of the trends within the art market. As with any other market, the participants in various processes begin their involvement on the assumption that the other participants act rationally. Still, there are always those instances when actions by galleries, collectors and first owners of an art piece do not follow the credo of bona fides in art trading. One thing that can suffer as a result of these kinds of practices is reflected in the stability of the career of contemporary artists. On the other hand, there are so many factors that influence the setting of the price. Recently, we were able to witness an example of a strange situation that occurred between two friends after the acquiring of Koons’ Popeye had taken place…

Ronald Perelman

Lawsuit and Epilogue

Ronald Perelman, American investor, sued his friend, notable art professional, collector and gallery owner, Larry Gagosian over the mentioned Koons statue. Namely, Perelman paid $4 million in 2010 and alleged that Gagosian mislead him on the “market price” of the piece. Some days ago, the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court dismissed the case, arguing that Perelman should have known better… This is what associate Justice David Friedman wrote: “As a matter of law, these sophisticated plaintiffs cannot demonstrate reasonable reliance because they conducted no due diligence; for example, they did not ask defendants, ‘Show us your market data.’”

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A prospective buyer browses gallery space featuring Andy Warhol’s Six Self Portraits and Jeff Koons’ Popeye (Photographer: Julie Jacobson / AP Photo)

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