Art Dealer Tove Langridge Is Charged With Theft in Australia

Artists allege the Instagram-famous gallerist refused to return works given to him on consignment.

Tove Langridge. Photo: @twfineart on Instagram.

Tove Langridge, the Instagram-famous owner of TW Fine Art gallery in Brisbane, has been charged with theft after he refused to return works given to him on consignment.

Queensland Police obtained search warrants and raided addresses tied to Langridge in mid-December, authorities confirmed by email to Artnet News. Langridge, 46, has been charged with nine counts of theft and is expected to appear in court on February 27. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

“Two artworks were recovered during the search warrant at the Hamilton address and the remaining artworks were recovered at locations in Spring Hill and Eagle Farm on December 21,” a police spokesperson said. “Police will allege the man failed to return artwork given to him on consignment.”

The arrest was first reported by the Art Newspaper, which noted that it came after two years of legal battles with artists seeking the return of their work, after Langridge allegedly failed to pay them sales proceeds and other income owed to them.

Alana Kushnir, a lawyer representing the artists, told the Art Newspaper that the case is one of the first in which police have charged a gallery owner for theft in such a manner. “The repetitious nature of the conduct adds to the seriousness of it,” Kushnir said.

Langridge opened TW Fine Art in 2014 and relied heavily on Instagram to boost his business, seeking out artists including Sebastian Helling, Samuel Bassett, and Taylor A. White. Jordan Kerwick, an Australian artist now based in France, told TAN that “a ton of artists” had hoped to work with him.

Kerwick has since regretted his decision, stating that Langridge is a “horrendous salesman” and never paid him when his works sold. Kimberly Rowe, a California artist, estimated that Langridge still had as many as 75 of her works in his possession before his arrest last year.

One artist who spoke anonymously said the gallerist made “dirty moves,” including forcing her to pay the import duty to return unsold work back to her studio. Another anonymous artist who had a solo show at the gallery in 2018 told the the Art Newspaper that Langridge seemed more interested in being famous than actually operating a gallery.

Some have also called Langridge’s early business dealings into question, the Art Newspaper reported. After first opening his gallery, Langridge made a name for himself by selling limited-edition prints including pieces by the artist Michael Goldberg and his partner Lynn Umlauf. Goldberg, an abstract expressionist, died in 2008 and Umlauf, a painter, died in 2022. Langridge had worked in their studio before their deaths.

But the director of the gallery that manages Goldberg’s estate, the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York, said neither it nor the former Manny Silverman Gallery, which represented Goldberg before it closed, had ever authorized prints. “Michael was not a printmaker,” Halley Harrisburg, the gallery’s director, added.

Artnet News has reached out to TW Fine Art through a contact form on its website but did not hear back by press time.

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