Can sharing a bit of gossip cost you $8 million? It might if you are high-powered art dealer and gallery owner David Zwirner.
It all started when Miami collector Craig Robins resold a painting, Reinhardt’s Daughter, (1994) by Margaret Dumas through David Zwirner’s Chelsea gallery in 2004. Zwirner apparently told the South African artist about the sale, and she forbid him to sell any of her paintings to Robins. Dumas currently has a solo exhibition of major works at David Zwirner, and when Robins wanted three of them, he was denied.
Robin’s lawsuit, filed on March 29, in Manhattan federal court, is asking for $3 million in compensatory damages, plus $5 million in punitive damages for the breach of confidentiality in the sale of the painting.
Accusations are flying—Zwirner told Dumas about the sale in order to curry favor to become her exclusive dealer, Dumas has “blacklisted” Robins from purchasing any primary market works, Zwirner made promises to Robins to sell him any works that didn’t sell to museums.
It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Multi-million dollar back-biting and name-calling in the art world is nothing new, but this takes he-said, she-said to a whole new level. 04/01/10print