Perelman and Gagosian Countersue Over ‘Popeye’
January 21, 2020
If there is only one name of an art dealer one can name in one’s sleep, it must be ‘Larry Gagosian.’ If there is a wish list for high profile clients, art dealers must covet having Ronald Perelman as their client. Here, the two heavyweights in their proper categories are suing to resolve their differences.
Suit 1: Defendant, Larry Gagosian is a longtime friend and art dealer of Plaintiff, Ronald O. Perelman, a billionaire art collector who filed a claim that Gagosian “took advantage of his position of trust” when selling him a Jeff Koons sculpture ‘Popeye’ for $4 million. Collectors, unlike museums, enjoy more flexibility in deaccessioning art once it appreciates in value or gets old, or one needs to pay for a divorce settlement. Perelman believes his ability to benefit from the Koons’ marketability was hindered by Gagosian. The claim alleges that Gagosian had an agreement with Koons that if the sculpture would resell for more than $4 million, the artist would earn a large percentage of the profit. Perelman believes that it was against Gagosian’s interest to repurchase or resell ‘Popeye’ above the initial price paid by Perelman.
Suit 2: Plaintiff, Larry Gagosian charges that collector Ronald Perelman failed to pay $12.6 million for a sculpture and $10.5 million for a painting that Gagosian delivered to defendant’s home in East Hampton, NY. Instead, Perelman tried to barter pieces from his own collection and used “deceptive maneuvers designed to force the gallery into spending tremendous capital to cover shortfalls” effectively clouding the title of some of the artworks [not identified].
Paraphrasing the original Popeye: “Leave us not jump to seclusions.” Perhaps the two suits with multimillion dollar tags could have been prevented if the two friends just “busked” one another “in the mush.” But for now, it may not be enough to get some “sensk of humiligration” to “pool [their] intelligensk and … axking [each other]for an apologeky.”