Will Sotheby’s Sell a Trove of Impressionist Paintings Locked in Storage for Decades?

A new court filing seeks to force a sale.

Sothebys New York. Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images.

Sotheby’s may soon offer a collection of more than two dozen works by blue-chip painters such as Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh, if the legal efforts of a partial owner prove successful in court.

Victoria Foyt, an actress and writer from Montecito, California, who is the former daughter-in-law of the original owner, collector Simon M. Jaglom, filed a motion in New York State Supreme Court on February 2, in an effort to compel the sale of the collection.

The complaint outlines the 25 works and their various ownership structures after Jaglom first gifted and later passed the works on to his heirs at the time of his death in 1992. According to the complaint, Simon’s son Michael consigned the artworks to the auction house in 1994, and Sotheby’s has kept them in storage since then.

The list includes two works by Picasso, three by Chagall, one by Gauguin, five by Renoir, two paintings by Degas, a work by Van Gogh, a work by Childe Hassam, a work by Berthe Morisot, and two works by Max Liebermann, among others.

LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 12: Actress Victoria Foyt attends the film premiere of "Going Shopping" at the Directors Guild of America on September 12, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images).

Victoria Foyt in 2005. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Simon Jaglom was president and later chairman of the New York Commodities Corporation and the Overseas Barters Corporation, as well as a collector and philanthropist. In 1971, he and his wife donated a wing to the Tel Aviv Museum.

Foyt was formerly married to Jaglom’s son, Henry, from 1991 to 2013. “During the course of his life, Simon Jaglom made gifts of ten of the artworks to his sons, Michael Jaglom and Henry D. Jaglom, as equal tenants in common,” according to the complaint for partition. When Simon died, the remaining 15 artworks passed over to his heirs.

According to the papers, an entity known as the “Jaglom Family 2012 Art Trust,” was created in July 2012 with Victoria as the sole trustee. Separate trusts created earlier by various family members are also outlined in the complaint.

However, Foyt is pursuing only Henry’s brother Michael, who is owner “of an undivided half interest in and to” the 25 artworks.

It is not clear from the complaint what has prevented a sale for more than two decades, but it would seem Sotheby’s eventually became tired of footing the bill for storage and insurance. In 2015, according to the document, Sotheby’s informed Victoria in her capacity as trustee of the various trusts, that it intended to transfer custody of the works to a third-party storage facility that would require the owners to pay the cost of keeping and insuring the work.

Foyt is requesting judgment requiring that the works be auctioned at Sotheby’s or whichever house “offers the most favorable terms for conducting such an auction.”

A representative on Michael Jaglom’s behalf did not respond to artnet News for comment.

In the meantime, the auction house is ready to act. “We await any instruction from the courts regarding the property currently in our possession,” according to a statement a Sotheby’s representative emailed to artnet News.

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