Mary Boone Files Lawsuit Against Art Advisor Over KAWS Sale

The advisor fired back with her own lawsuit.

Mary Boone. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

High-profile contemporary art dealer Mary Boone filed suit against art advisor and ex-Gagosian employee Vanessa Buia in New York Supreme Court on July 25 over the sale of two works by well-known graffiti artist KAWS (whose real name is Brian Donnelly) that ended up in a Paris gallery.

Boone was purportedly dismayed when two tondo, or circular, works by KAWS that her gallery sold to Buia for $290,000 (discounted from $350,000) turned up at Paris’ Galerie Laurent Strouk.

Buia fired back with her own lawsuit on July 26, a copy of which was obtained by artnet News, alleging that Boone committed slander, tortious interference, and trade libel. A glance at Buia’s complaint—which alleges that Boone is “mercurial,” has “a fragile mental state,” and has “jealousy and hatred” for Buia, suggests the battle has also gotten highly personal.

According to Courthouse News, Boone, whose complaint notes that Buia “once operated a gallery which publicly failed,” said Buia sought to buy two KAWS works in April this past year.

“Buia knew that the gallery would not sell new KAWS works to an unimportant collection, and it would absolutely not allow such works to be exhibited in a location that interfered with a foreign gallery relationship the artist maintained,” the complaint said according to the Courthouse News.

Furthermore, Boone alleges in her complaint that Buia said she was acting on behalf of an “important collector of contemporary art whom she identified, a person whose name she undoubtedly knew would be considered appropriate by the gallery and would please the artist.”

Buia’s complaint asserts that she never identified a buyer, citing client confidentiality.

Boone’s complaint says once the works left the gallery, they changed hands several times over the next few days, according to a paper trail, before they ended up at Galerie Laurent Strouk in early May.

Boone says  Buia harmed her reputation and has “embarrassed the artist in his relationship with his principal Paris art gallery.” She is seeking $60,000 for fraudulent inducement and fraud, plus interest, costs and fees.

The $60,000 amount represents the discount that Boone reportedly gave Buia on the $350,000 purchase when she allegedly named a buyer who was meant to purchase the work.


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.