Danh Vo’s Lawyer Withdraws from Bert Kreuk Case as Kreuk Complains of Witness Intimidation
Did Vo's lawyer act inappropriately?
The lawyer representing artist Danh Vo in a high-profile suit against Rotterdam collector Bert Kreuk has withdrawn from the case, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. Furthermore, Kreuk is exploring a complaint of witness intimidation against the attorney, Gert-Jan van den Bergh, of Amsterdam firm Bergh Stoop & Sanders.
“There are two specific instances of witness intimidation and they are quite serious in my opinion,” Kreuk told artnet News via email, explaining that in his opinion, Vo’s lawyer selectively leaked confidential emails to the press in an attempt to “influence the judicial process.”
“Last week, my lawyers wrote Danh Vo’s lawyer about this and our intention to explore a complaint with the bar association,” he adds. “And yesterday I learned that the lawyer pulled himself from the case.”
Marian Goodman Gallery, which represents Vo in New York, declined to comment.
Kreuk brought a suit against the Danish-Vietnamese artist and Berlin’s Isabella Bortolozzi Gallery in 2014, saying that Vo failed to deliver an artwork for “Transforming the Known,” an exhibition of Kreuk’s collection at the Hague’s Gemeentemuseum (Hague Municipal Museum) that closed in September of 2013.
Kreuk went on to sell some of the works from the show at Sotheby’s New York, leading to accusations of art flipping and of using the museum show to inflate the value of his works. In that sale, according to the artnet Price Database, Vo’s 2011 work Alphabet (M) sold for $149,000, far above its presale estimate of $60,000–90,000.
Kreuk sued Vo for damages of about $1.2 million. Vo denies that he and Kreuk made an agreement, but Kreuk stands by his story; both have sent artnet News their versions of events.
Kreuk won a judgment against Vo in June, with the court ruling that the two had indeed settled on Vo’s delivering a work for the show, and dictating that Vo should deliver a work priced at up to $350,000.
Vo, in turn, sent artnet News a letter to Kreuk, promising a work that would read “shove it up your ass, you faggot.” The sentence is a quote from the 1973 horror film The Exorcist, which served as the subject for a recent show by Vo. Vo’s lawyer conceded in an article in the Volkskrant that the artist had acted out of frustration.
Kreuk responded, pointing out that the judgment against Vo set penalties “because of [his] attitude” and saying that the proposed work is “not made with the right artistic intention or ambition.”
“I suggest you find another sentence, for instance from the film ‘Rite of Exorcism,’” Kreuk adds, “[which] reads: ‘FROM ANGER, HATRED, AND ALL ILL WILL.’” He also suggested that both parties agree to make a donation to a Dutch or American museum to assuage Vo’s frustration.
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