Collectors Sue Gallery Over Unauthorized Andy Warhol Sale
Gallery sells Red Shoes instead of storing it.
When art collectors Amy Koler and Stephen Meyer moved from Arizona to St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2009, they kept much of their collection in their Arizona home. They decided to leave Red Shoes, which they had purchased from American Fine Art Editions, Inc. (AFAE) in 2005 for $65,000, at the gallery for storage.
According to the complaint, the canvas, “from a collection of works featuring women’s shoes sprinkled with diamond dust,” “bore Mr. Warhol’s signature on the back and a stamp verifying authenticity from the Andy Warhol Foundation.”
Koler and Meyer say that they decided to leave the work at AFAE per gallery manager Phillip Koss and employee Jeff Dippold’s suggestion, coming to an “agreement that AFAE could display the piece and use it to help market sales of other similar works. The defendants knew from their discussions with plaintiffs that plaintiffs intended to keep ownership of the piece and not to sell it.”
In the years since, the couple kept in touch with Dippold, reiterating their desire to keep the artwork. The gallery manager, for his part, never mentioned he might sell the piece. However, on a trip back to Scottsdale earlier this year, Koler and Meyer discovered that the gallery had done just that.
The Red Shoes Sold
“Defendant Dippold claimed that the defendants sold the Red Shoes piece ‘months ago,’ and asked, ‘didn’t Phil call you?'” the complaint states. “The plaintiffs, understandably upset, expressed their disbelief that the defendants had violated their agreement and had sold the plaintiffs’ property without authority and then left the gallery.”
The next day, Koler went to the gallery to confront Koss, but was only able to speak to him over the phone. She alleges he was in the building at the time. The complaint claims that Koss and Dippold did not show Koler any documents from the sale, and refused even to disclose the price.
When Koler accused him of dishonesty, Dippold defended the gallery’s actions, saying “it’s just business.” He then offered to repay the original $65,000 sale price, but the plaintiffs believe its value has greatly appreciated over the years.
The suit seeks the return of Red Shoes, as well as damages for conversion, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, fraud, and unjust enrichment.
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