Art Dealer Ordered to Pay $500 a Day to Artist
The artist claims the gallery chopped off 10 inches from his painting.
UPDATE: The attorney for the plaintiff informed artnet News that Grunert paid the judgment in full following the court order.
A judge ordered Manhattan dealer Tanja Grunert and her eponymous gallery to pay an artist the sum of $500 a day after failing to comply with an order handed down in earlier this year.
The judge in the case, Lewis A. Kaplan, ruled in an order filed on December 8 in US District Court, Southern District of New York, that Grunert is in contempt of court:
“Ms. Grunert shall pay to plaintiff in addition to all other sums owed by her, the sum of $500 per day for each day following the date of this order during which she has not fully and completely answered the interrogatories that she was directed by the Order to answer.”
In 2013, Brooklyn-based artist Joseph Marino Statkun, known as Jomar Statkun, originally sued Grunert and the gallery for “damages for violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990.” According to the suit, a copy of which was obtained by artnet News, the complaint centers on a painting Statkun created, titled Tubal Cain at Beggar’s Creek. The original dimensions of the work were 60 inches by 72 inches.
The painting was sold for $16,000 in August 11 2010, according to the complaint. Two years later, Statkun claims he learned from a former employee of the gallery that “approximately 10 inches were cropped from Tubal Cain at Beggar’s Creek, without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent,” according to court papers. A copy of the invoice is attached to the suit, noting the new dimensions of the painting as 50 inches by 72 inches.
In addition to the VARA violation, the artist made claims for violation of the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, breach of contract, fraud, and defamation. He was asking for statutory damages in the amount of $150,000.
However the judge, deciding on a motion for default judgment, awarded $3,500 plus attorney’s fees, noting that “the dimunition in the size of the canvas was less than enormous. It had the effect of permitting the sale, at a substantial price, of a canvas that had not sold for an extended period.” Kaplan wrote that while the court did not want to “trivialize” the violation of Statkun’s rights, it saw “no reason to provide the artist with a windfall at the expense of the gallery.”
Grunert did not respond to artnet News for comment by publication time.
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