BUFFALO, N.Y. (CN) – A Buffalo, N.Y. antiques dealer defrauded a customer of $100,000 for two bogus Tiffany lamps, the man claims in court.
Alfred A. Turner Jr. sued Lawrence Ludtka dba Larry’s Antiques, on Friday in Federal Court.
Turner claims he paid Ludtka $40,000 for a Tiffany Geranium lamp on Sept. 2012, and $60,000 for a Tiffany Spider lamp on Oct. 1, 2012. He claims that Ludtka assured him that the lamps had been examined by a prominent Tiffany expert, Grant Paulsen and certified as genuine.
Paulsen is not a party to the complaint, nor is he accused of wrongdoing.
Turner says he sent the Spider lamp to Sotheby’s, to be auctioned, and “Sotheby’s refused to auction it and returned it to Turner because of concern that the lamp was counterfeit.”
So Turner says he turned to Paul Crist, “a foremost appraiser of Tiffany products,” who is not a party to the lawsuit.
Crist told him both lamps were fakes, Turner says, and gave him two letters of authentication saying so.
“The Letter of Authentication for the purported Tiffany Geranium Lamp noted that while the genuine Lamp was sold by Tiffany Studios in 1906, the lamp defendant sold to Turner included types of glass not manufactured until the late 1980s and 1990s and included a recently applied finish. Paul Crist concluded that ‘this shade is not a legitimate product of Tiffany Studios. It is rather a modern reproduction of a Tiffany design, probably produced sometime after 1990.'”
Same thing with the other lamp, Turner says: “The Letter of Authentication for the purported Tiffany Spider Lamp noted that while the genuine Lamp was sold by Tiffany Studios in 1906, the lamp defendant sold to Turner included evidence of being manufactured with modern rotary tools and included modern silicon bronze castings, as opposed to the red brass castings that would be present in a genuine version of the lamp. Paul Crist concluded that ‘this shade is a modern reproduction.'”
Ludtka refused his demand for a refund, Turner says.
He claims that Crist told him that “prior to defendant’s sale of the lamps to Turner, a client of Paul Crist had been offered the same purported Tiffany Spider lamp, but refused to buy it due to concerns over the Spider lamp’s authenticity.”
But Ludtka sold it as genuine anyway, Turner says. He claims that Ludtka “has repeatedly offered counterfeit Tiffany merchandise for sale and induced buyers into purchasing the merchandise by assuring them that the products’ authenticity had been confirmed by Mr. Paulsen.”
Turner wants his money back, plus costs of authentication, and punitive damages for fraud, business law violations, breach of contract, breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and conversion, plus interest.
He is represented by Daniel Moar, with Goldberg Segalla.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1848-1933, is renowned for his stained glass in Art Nouveau style. He designed the interior of Mark Twain’s House in Hartford, Conn., in 1881, which remains and is open to the public. In 1885 he decided to concentrate on glass, and formed the Tiffany Glass Studios.
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