Monday, October 25, 2010

Warhol Foundation Lawyers Quash Antitrust Lawsuit

Warhol self-portrait, 1964, was twice rejected by the foundation's authentication board.

ARTINFO, October 24, 2010, 2:28 pm
by Jason Edward Kaufman
Warhol Foundation Lawyers Quash Antitrust Lawsuit
The biggest legal brawl in the art world is coming to a crashing halt


NEW YORK - The closely watched federal lawsuit in which a private collector is suing the Andy Warhol Foundation and its subsidiary Art Authentication Board is about to reach an abrupt and unexpected end. Joe Simon, the London-based American whose 2007 complaint challenges the board’s rejection of the authenticity of the 1964 Warhol self-portrait that he owns, says that he and his lawyer, Seth Redniss of New York, will withdraw from the case at the next hearing, scheduled for November 10 in federal court in the Southern District of Manhattan. A parallel lawsuit in which Redniss is counsel, filed last year by U.S. collector Susan Shaer after the rejection of a self-portrait from the same series, also will be dropped, says Simon.

Simon...cites a lack of “financial resources” to continue the case, as well as the Warhol Foundation’s threat of punitive countersuits. The full text of Simon’s statement is below. Redniss declined to comment when contacted by telephone, and lawyers for the Warhol Foundation could not be immediately reached.

“The case is done,” says Simon. “I can’t do it anymore.” The reason is that Redniss, who has been working for years without pay in exchange for a percentage of a prospective settlement, is unable to respond to the numerous motions filed by lawyers for the Warhol Foundation. Simon says he does not have funds to hire additional counsel and is unable to enlist other firms willing to work on contingency.

A work from the series was reproduced on the dust jacket of the 1970 Warhol catalogue raisonne.

Simon and others had hoped that the lawsuit would uncover the committee’s secretive deliberations and open the door to claims that could result in reassessment of numerous rejected works, potentially resulting in many millions of dollars worth of art being reinstated in the Warhol canon. The stakes are extremely high. The auction record for a Warhol is $71.7 million paid for his 1963 Green Car Crash silkscreen canvas at Christie’s in May 2007.

Simon’s complaint further alleged that the Warhol Foundation and its authentication board engaged in an illegal conspiracy to control the Warhol market by limiting the number of approved Warhols, and thereby increasing the rarity and value of the hundreds of works owned and sold by the foundation. They sought damages and an injunction against the Warhol Foundation, the authentication board, the Warhol estate, and executor Vincent Fremont — the sales representative for the foundation’s paintings — alleging antitrust violations, collusion and fraud.

Read more, including a full statement by Simon, here.

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