‘Sopranos’ Actor Slapped With Lawsuit Over Unpaid PR Bills for $10 Million Guercino Discovery

The actor has yet to sell the painting.

Guercino Portrait of St. Sebastian (circa 1630). Courtesy of the Federico Castelluccio Collection.

Sopranos star Federico Castelluccio may not share his onscreen character’s mobster tendencies, but the actor finds himself in trouble with the law nonetheless, as the subject of a civil action lawsuit.

According to a news item posted on Art Daily, Castelluccio is being sued by his former publicist, James Sliman, for payment. Over the last two-and-a-half years, Silman was tasked with promoting a newly-discovered painting of Saint Sebastian by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, best-known as Guercino, thought to be worth $10 million.

Castelluccio reportedly paid just $140,000 for the artwork, and enlisted Sliman to help spread the news of the find, in the hopes of quickly finding a buyer willing to pay millions for the Baroque masterpiece.


Actor Federico Castelluccio

Actor Federico Castelluccio, who appeared in the Sopranos originally bought the Guercino for $140,000. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Sliman alleges that Castelluccio agreed to pay him $35,000 for his publicity work, which included promoting the actor’s bonafides as an art collector and Baroque art expert. The publicist says he has never seen a dime for his work, and that Castelluccio, who has yet to sell the Guercino, has continually made excuses to delay payment.

“Even though [Castelluccio] said he was ‘broke,’ he continued to purchase art and other items for his collection,” Sliman claims in the filing.

Federico Castelluccio, <em>Myself As Luke</em>. Courtesy of Federico Castelluccio.

Federico Castelluccio, Myself As Luke. Courtesy of Federico Castelluccio.

Though he’s best known for his HBO role, Castelluccio thinks of himself first and foremost as a painter. “Before anything else,” he told West 46th Mag, “I’m a visual artist. It’s an asset to me as an actor and, more importantly, as a director.”

According to Live Auctioneers, over 20,000 people viewed the Guercino painting when it was on view in the exhibition “St. Sebastian: Beauty and Integrity in Art Between the 15th and the 17th Centuries” at the Fondazione Cosso’s Miradolo Castle near Turin, Italy, from October 2014 through the following March. The canvas later made its American debut at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Francesco de Mura, <em>The Trinity</em> (circa 1741). Courtesy of Federico Castelluccio.

Francesco de Mura, The Trinity (circa 1741). Courtesy of Federico Castelluccio.

Four other paintings from Castelluccio’s collection, by Baroque artist Francesco de Mura, are slated to appear in “In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura” (September 17–December 18, 2016), opening this weekend at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Orlando, Florida.

In response to Sliman’s allegations, Castelluccio’s attorney, Mark Shirian, told Page Six that “this case has absolutely no merit and will be vigorously defended and challenged.”

“I stand by everything that’s in the complaint,” Sliman told Art Daily. “Everyone knows what an amazing job I have done for Mr. Castelluccio. I’ve been more patient than anyone else would have been and I only want to be paid for my work.”

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