A clothes dryer ironically causes a fire in the mansion of a clothing designer. The manufacturer of the dryer is sued for damage to original art. As often is the case during art litigation, the case turns into a battle of experts to determine the value of the art.
Last month, in Oleg Cassini Inc. v. Electrolux Home Products Inc., a New York Federal Court excluded from trial an art appraiser’s testimony despite 27 years art appraisal experience; a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornell University; a Master’s in Industrial Design from Syracuse University; courses at the Rhode Island School of Design; certification in appraisal from New York University; membership in the Appraisers Association of America; a license through the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices; and previous qualification as an art appraisal expert by a Federal Court in Alaska.
The New York Federal Court found nothing wrong with the methodology used. So what happened? The expert’s valuation experience in this specific type of art (fashion sketches) was unclear; some of the appraisals were based upon photographs taken by others; the report lacked information about comparables such as date of sale, whether sold by auction or private sale, sales price, and the reason for selection; and calculations were not explained.
Experts are critical in damaged art litigation, not to mention expensive. Follow the roadmap set out in Oleg Cassini Inc. to avoid being caught at trial up a creek without an art appraisal expert.
Thanks to Betsy Silverstine for her contribution to this post. For more information, please write to Mike Bono.