Legal Matters: Did Christie's Sell Tony Shafrazi a Fake?

September 14th, 2007

According to a piece in Crain’s, New York-based art dealer and gallerist Tony Shafrazi filed a claim on September 7th against auction giant Christie’s for $7 million with the New York Supreme Court. He alleges that the Basquiat he purchased in 1990 for $242,000 is a fake and Christie’s knowingly sold it to him regardless.

Apparently Basiquat’s father told Christie’s that the painting was not real, yet it was sold to Shafrazi, who in turn sold it to collector Guido Orsi in 1991. The dealer and collector duo did not find out until last year that the painting was a fake.

So why the $7 million claim? Crain’s reports that the breakdown of the charges are as follows:

- $2 million in damages based on “a spike in Basquiat’s market value since 1990″
– $5 million in “exemplary damages”

The auction house is apparently saying that the case has “no merit”.

Given the incredible increase in prices for Basquiat’s work the past 15 years or so, it is highly doubtful that Shafrazi and Orsi are going to back down until the Court makes a decision.

A piece by Basquiat was included in Christie’s contemporary sale this past week, estimated between $1.2 and $1.8 million. It sold for slightly under the low estimate at $1.16 million.

Christie’s denies selling fake painting [Crain’s]

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