David Zwirner Sued for $2 Million Over Mystery Artwork by ‘World-Renowned Artist’

The complaint says the gallery was "reckless."

David Zwirner. Photo Michael Plunkett/Patrick McMullan.
David Zwirner. Photo Michael Plunkett/Patrick McMullan.

An unnamed artwork by a mysterious artist is at the center of a $2 million lawsuit against dealer David Zwirner by Old Master dealer Fabrizio Moretti via his the London company, Blue Art Limited, which accuses Zwirner of breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, and inducement.

Moretti bought the still-undelivered artwork, says the complaint, which claims that as a result of an faltering art market and Zwirner’s “mishandling” of other pieces by the artist, the work has “fallen dramatically” in value.

Fabrizio Moretti. Photo Patrick McMullan.

Fabrizio Moretti. Photo Patrick McMullan.

“I have lost interest on this,” reads a July 12 email from Moretti to Zwirner. “I am sure you will understand my position, and beeing [sic] yourself the most important dealer in the art world and a gentleman, I know that you will wire me back the money, and I hope to do more business with your company in the next future.”

The “world-renowned artist” was in the process of manufacturing the work at the time of purchase, says the complaint. But since the gallery “had no reasonable basis to believe that the Work would be completed in a reasonable amount of time,” its promise to that effect was “reckless.”

Moretti, who runs galleries in Florence, London, and New York, points out in the suit, filed in July, that he paid for the work in full a year ago. “The Work still has not been delivered to Plaintiff and there is no reason to believe that it will be delivered anytime soon,” laments the complaint. When the work wasn’t delivered, Moretti asked for his money back but hasn’t gotten the check, says the suit.

Zwirner has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, calling it “a case of buyer’s remorse.”

Zwirner’s lawyers argue that since no delivery date had been agreed on and Moretti paid in full without ever asking for one, there’s no breach of contract. The gallery says, furthermore, that it informed Moretti this month that the work was ready to be delivered but that his company has not arranged for delivery, “standing by its bogus claim that it has validly canceled the contract.”

Few details emerge about the piece in question: “The Work is intentionally not described here (e.g., by title, material, etc.) to diminish any possible further damage to the Work’s value,” says the complaint, filed in the New York Supreme Court. “Defendants, of course, know the identity of the Work.” We do know from Zwirner’s motion to dismiss that it stands 8 feet tall, 7 feet long and 3 feet wide.

Moretti is represented by New York firm Cahill Partners; Clarick Gueron Reisbaum represents Zwirner. John Cahill declined to comment on the case.


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