Art Basel, arguably the most important art show in the United States, took place this past weekend in Miami Beach, but not without incident involving the world of fine art insurers. Prior to the opening of the art expo, a dozen U.S. Marshals and police officers arrived on the scene to seize paintings by Fernand Leger, Joan Miro, Edgar Degas and Yves Klein following an insurance dispute between two art dealers.
In July, Edelman Arts Inc., a New York gallery, as assignee of XL Specialty Insurance Corp., brought suit in New York Federal Court against Galerie Gmurzynska regarding a damaged Robert Ryman painting. The lawsuit alleges that Edelman consigned a Ryman painting to Gmurzynska for sale at Art Basel Miami Beach 2007, which was insured for $750,000. The plaintiff claims that the work was returned with considerable damage including “gouges” and that the defendant refused to pay the insured value of the work. While the suit resulted in a default judgment for Edelman of $765,000, due to Gmurzynska’s failure to answer the complaint, the seized paintings are estimated at ten times the value of the judgment, the standard amount usually confiscated for auction. An undisclosed settlement was reached between the dealers and the paintings were ultimately returned to the gallery’s exhibition space before the end of the expo.
Thanks to Chris O’Leary for his contribution to this post.