Monday, March 21, 2011

UPDATE: Robert Wylde v. Gagosian Gallery, Inc.

"The Innocent Eye Test," by Mark Tansey (1981)

The has reported that the Metropolitan Museum's website listed the Mark Tansey painting the subject of the recently filed claim against Gagosian gallery as "Partial and Promised Gift of Jan Cowles and Charles Cowles." And indeed it does -- here is the direct link. Last week, a spokesperson for Gagosian made a statement saying the gallery would "vigorously" defend the action and that Charles Cowles had "represented that he had clear title to the painting."

But shouldn't the gallery have done due diligence (granted, delicately) at the very least to confirm that its client had title to sell the consigned painting? Had they made even basic inquiries about the provenance of the painting the connection to the Met would have been revealed and a simple search of their website would have revealed the museum's interest in the painting. Surely the gallery doesn't just take representations of title made by prospective clients at face value (even if the seller is Charles Cowles)? The suit (which also comprises a claim over a cancelled sale of a Richard Prince nurse painting) will shed much-needed light on the inner workings of what is widely considered to be the most successful gallery in the world.

For background on the torts/property/fraud action brought by Robert Wylde against the Gagosian gallery see here.

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