Swiss Art Dealer Sues Getty Museum for $77 Million

A statue from the Torlonia collection.
A statue from the Torlonia collection.
(Fondazione Torlonia onlus)

In a federal lawsuit on Jan. 12, a Swiss art dealer claimed that the Getty Museum in Los Angeles unfairly dropped it from a deal for a portion of a multi-billion dollar private collection of Roman antiquities that the dealer was brokering, reports Courthouse News.

Phoenix Art, of Geneva, claims the Getty Museum has a “history of dubious acquisitions and trouble with Italian authorities,” and that it helped smooth the deal for the acquistions until the museum “stole the value of years of work and relationships cultivated by plaintiffs in violation of their contractual and legal duties,” according to court documents.

Phoenix claims it was contracted by Rome's aristocratic Torlonia family to sell works from their unparalleled collection of Roman statues. The dealer alleges that after much of the research and negotiating was done, the Getty cut them out, violating a non-circumvention contract.

Phoenix’s agent, Petrarch LLC dha Electrum, and Regulus International Capital Corp., are co-plaintiffs in the suit, demanding from the Getty $77 million for fraud, breach of contract, breach of faith, tortious interference, unjust enrichment, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets and conversion.

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