Cook Fine Art sued by collector for $5m in missing art

  • August 28, 2011 20:48

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Screenshot of Cook Fine Art

A New York City art dealer has taken off with about $5 million worth of art, or the proceeds of their sale, claims one collector. Works by the likes of Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky, and Matisse were reported by the dealer to be consigned in a Christie's auction on behalf of the collector. The items were never listed in the sale. The dealer said through his attorney that the "money has been spent" and he hopes to avoid prosecution.

George Ball sued R. Scott Cook, his wife Soussan A.E Cook, Cook Fine Art LLC and New Yorker Storage Co. dba New Yorker Arts, in Federal Court last week.

Ball said the Cooks were his exclusive dealer for about $10 million in art that he owned. The former gallery, listed at 1063 Madison Ave., and New Yorker Arts held these works for Ball.

Last year Ball asked Cook to sell some of his art. Cook said that several paintings would go to the June 2011 Christie's sale in London.

This summer, Cook told Ball that some of his art sold at the auction for a total of 3,390,000 euros, or $5.3 million. Later, the dealer emailed him and said the funds had not "cleared" yet.

On Aug. 15, Ball received a phone call to contact Philadelphia attorney James Eisenhower.

The complaint reads: "Mr. Eisenhower informed plaintiff's attorney that Cook and his wife were not in the country, that plaintiff was expecting to receive a large amount of money, but that the money that plaintiff was expecting to receive would not be forthcoming because 'it has been spent.' Mr. Eisenhower said that Cook hoped to work something out with plaintiff, that Cook might be able to raise $1 million if he could sell some artwork, and that Cook hoped to avoid being prosecuted."

Ball seeks punitive damages for conversion, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and unjust enrichment. He believes the Cooks may be in the south of France.

Read more at Courthouse News Service

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