Perry Rubenstein Owes Shepard Fairey (Among Others) a Lot of Money

Perry Rubenstein at a 2010 gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo: courtesy Patrick McMullan Co.

The names of bankrupt Los Angeles-based dealer Perry Rubenstein’s creditors have been revealed, and it’s quite a list. As the Los Angeles Times put it, it “reads like a Hollywood art-world summit,” including Shepard Fairey, actor Simon Baker, and former Walt Disney Co. president and founder of the Creative Artists Agency Michael Ovitz.

Rubenstein’s relocation from New York to the West Coast in June 2012 was met with a great deal of fanfare. The first opening at his 9,500-square-foot space on Highland Avenue attracted bold-faced names from across the creative industries: musician Neil Young, former Big Love star Ginnifer Goodwin, producer Steve Tisch, and Jeffrey Deitch, who at the time still was director of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

By November of the following year, however, Rubenstein’s legal troubles began coming to light when Ovitz sued the dealer for fraud and breach of contract. Allegedly, Rubenstein sold two Richard Prince pieces for nearly $1 million on behalf of Ovitz, but never turned over the proceeds. Court documents also indicate one of the works was sold for only $475,000, about $100,000 less than the agreed-upon price. Art Advisory Limited, an art consulting firm and one of the two buyers, joined the bandwagon as well, suing Rubenstein because he had never given them the painting.

Last month, the gallery filed for bankruptcy (as reported by artnet News), revealing a list of debts in court documents. Obey Giant, Fairey’s company, has a claim of about $159,000, while Los Angeles artist Zoe Crosher is owed over $100,000. The gallery is also about $364,000 in debt to German sculptor Georg Herold. Baker and his wife, actress Rebecca Rigg, are seeking a $43,500 refund for a cancelled sale.

Rubenstein also owes more than $59,000 to FITZ&CO., the art PR firm run by his soon-to-ex-wife, Sara Fitzmaurice. The couple recently announced their divorce after 17 years of marriage.

“These are all matters that are being resolved civilly and, hopefully, expeditiously,” Rubenstein told the LA Times. He will appear in Los Angeles Bankruptcy Court on April 29.

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