Minor prevails over Christie's in court

  • May 24, 2010 12:51

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The Richard Prince painting “Nurse in Hollywood #4,” one of the works at the center of the dispute between Minor and Christie's, sold for $6.4 million (with fees) at Phillips de Pury this May.

CNet cofounder Halsey Minor won the favor of a San Francisco jury in his complicated dispute with Christie's International. The court ordered Christie's to pay $8.57 million in damages to Minor for a perceived drop in the retail value of his paintings held by the auctioneer. Christie's employees had retained Minor's consignment of seven Richard Prince paintings for five months after he asked for their return because of his non-payment for other artworks he bid on.

Minor owed the New York auction house about $12 million in the summer of 2008 for a Mary Cassatt, and other works, according to the Wall Street Journal. He paid about $5 million off and continued to bid for works by the likes of Thomas Moran and Andy Warhol.

When Minor's consigned Prince paintings failed to sell at Christie's Haunch of Venison gallery, the auction house agreed to return them, but then held on to the paintings for five months as they waited to collect payment for his purchases. The court concluded that this lag time resulted in the paintings losing value in the weakening art market of fall 2008.

Earlier this May, Phillips de Pury auctioned off 22 pieces from Minor's collection for $21.1 million which will go toward repaying a $21.6 million delinquent loan he has through ML Private Finance, a subsidiary of Bank of America.

Minor is on the "no-bid" list at both Christie's and Sotheby's where he renegged on a bid of $6.6 million for a Edward Hicks painting.

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