Tourist Sues Manhattan Gallery for $100,000 Sale of Allegedly Fake Art Deco Sculptures

He claims to have been misled into buying fakes.

The gallery is located in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

A Manhattan art gallery and antiques shop is being sued for allegedly selling a British tourist inauthentic sculptures by the renowned art deco artist Demétre Chiparus. The cost? Over $100,000.

Christopher Rouse is accusing the Elliot Stevens gallery—located in the lobby of the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel—of duping him with an elaborate sales pitch. He claims they attempted to convince him that the statues were made using original molds which the gallery acquired after the sculptor died in the famous hotel, reports the New York Post. 

The gallery specializes in antique jade and ivory carvings, as well as Tiffany lamps, elaborately carved 19th century clocks, and Meissen porcelain.

The tourist claims to have been told that the statues were for sale at a 75 percent markdown because the gallery owners were retiring. “I was told I would be taking part in what was a closing down sale,” Rouse told the court via video link from his London home. “Because I was in a beautiful shop in the lobby of the Waldorf Hotel made me inclined to believe what I was told,” says Rouse.

In reality, however, the Romanian sculptor lived and died in Paris, and an expert witness at the trial in a Manhattan federal court testified that the statues were most likely Chinese-made forgeries copied from photographs.

Chiparus is known for his art deco sculptures. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Chiparus is known for his art deco sculptures. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

David Assoulin, a salesman at the Elliot Stevens, denies that the gallery mislead the tourist, insisting that Rouse’s version of events are not true. According to documents, the gallery describes the artworks as having been “cast and carved from an original model by DH Chiparus.”

Elliot Stevens CEO Steven Shalom was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday but was forced to postpone his testimony due to illness. Shalom will testify in October, when the trial continues.

Elliot Stevens gallery did not immediately respond to artnet News’ request for comment.

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