MANHATTAN (CN) – An art collector claims a Manhattan gallery owner said he wanted to a Basquiat painting to show it “to his family,” then sold it for $300,000 without permission. Lio Malca sued Katzuhito Yoshii and his Yoshii Gallery in New York County Court.
Malca claims the gallery at 980 Madison Ave. sold his Jean-Michel Basquiat artwork known as “Untitled (Football Helmet)” which Yoshii had in bailment. Malca says he did not consign the work to the gallery, and it was “not offered as collateral against any debts,” but was merely on loan to defendant Yoshii as a favor.
Malca claims that while Yoshii had the piece, he offered to sell it to the gallery but Yoshii refused to pay the asking price of $300,000.
A few days later, Malca says, he asked for the art back, but the gallery told him it had been sold “without title.” Malca says he demanded that the gallery “return the artwork immediately,” without success.
He demands damages for breach of duty as bailee, conversion, and fraud, and wants the art back or $500,000 (the “actual value of the piece”).
Malca is represented by Larry Kramer with Kramer & Pollack of Mineola.