Prominent Dallas collector Marguerite Hoffman was awarded $500,000 in a battle over a Rothko painting by a U.S. District Court jury on Friday. The cash award comes after years of wrangling between Hoffman and Mexican financier David Martinez who bought Rothko's 1961 untitled painting from her in 2007.
Later, the 8-foot-tall painting, featuring two red rectangles, was sold at Sotheby's for $31 million. Hoffman sued Martinez in 2010 for not keeping the sale confidential. The auction of the Rothko made its sale a public record, said Hoffman.
In closing arguments, Hoffman's lawyers had sought as much as $22.4 million from the defendants which included Martinez, L&M Arts and Studio Capital.
At issue, the painting had once been promised to the Dallas Museum of Art, but Hoffman sold it privately after the death of her husband, Robert Hoffman, in 2006. Hoffman claimed that she was damaged from the public sale.
The Dallas Morning News reported:
The Rothko was once part of a bequest made to the [Dallas Museum of Art] by Hoffman and her late husband, Robert. The Hoffmans, Howard and Cindy Rachofsky and Rusty and Deedie Rose announced in 2005 that they would donate their extensive contemporary art collections to the DMA upon their deaths, a gift of $215 million.
The untitled Rothko was among the pieces that lined the walls in the “Fast Forward” exhibition in 2007 that showcased the three couples’ bequest. Soon after, the painting was sold. Since word of the court action broke in 2010, the DMA has strongly supported Hoffman, who in March contributed $17 million to the DMA to establish an endowment to enhance its collections of European art from before 1700.