Stefan Simchowitz Settles Lawsuit With Artist Ibrahim Mahama

Mahama claimed that Simchowitz was selling inauthentic art in his name.

Stefan Simchowitz, Heave Ho, Heave Ho, Where the Hell, Will the art market, Go attends "An Eye on the Future: New Business Models for the Art Market" at Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2015 - Day 2 at Barker Hangar on January 30, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. Courtesy of Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Art Los Angeles Contemporary.
Ghanian artist Ibrahim Mahama at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Image: Courtesy of YouTube.com

Ghanian artist Ibrahim Mahama at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Courtesy of YouTube.com.

Controversial art collector/dealer Stefan Simchowitz and Dublin dealer Jonathan Ellis King have settled their ongoing legal case with Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, reports the Art Newspaper. The terms of the settlement, which was reached on May 4, are confidential, but all parties will cover their own legal fees.

The battled stemmed from Mahama’s claims that Simchowitz and King were selling inauthentic artworks in his name. The dealers sued on a number of counts, including breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, commercial disparagement, and unfair competition.

In 2013, Mahama was paid $150,000 by the dealers for his signed and dated works—jute sacks used to transport coal in his native Ghana. The artist claimed, however, that Simchowitz and King “mutilated” the works “by cutting them up, and stretching and framing them as individual pieces to sell, all without any required written authorization.”

Ibrahim Mahama, Untitled (2014), sold at Phillips

Ibrahim Mahama, Untitled (2014), sold at Phillips.

The dealers claimed the works in question were worth $4.5 million, and that Mahama had agreed to let them make and sell a number of small, unique artworks from his signature material.

In response, Mahama counter-sued, accusing Simchowitz and King of violating the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, which prohibits “any intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work” of an artist.

Stefan Simchowitz, Heave Ho, Heave Ho, Where the Hell, Will the art market, Go attends "An Eye on the Future: New Business Models for the Art Market" at Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2015 - Day 2 at Barker Hangar on January 30, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. Courtesy of Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Art Los Angeles Contemporary.

Stefan Simchowitz on January 30, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. Courtesy of Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Art Los Angeles Contemporary.

Simchowitz denied Mahama’s version of events, telling artnet News in April, “Because an artist states after the fact that this is inauthentic, this is not the case. It’s something he signed and received payment for.”

A divisive figure in the art world for his work with young artists and art-flipping tendencies, Simchowitz was the subject of a 2015 New York Times profile titled “The Art World’s Patron Satan” that was later annotated on Genius by author Christopher Glazek.

Simchowitz, King, and Mahama did not immediately respond to artnet News’s request for comment.


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