WEST PALM BEACH (CN) – A man claims in court that a Palm Beach art gallery sold him a “hand-colored aquatint” by Georges Rouault for $13,250, and it took him 17 years to find out it was not hand-colored at all.
Stephen Levin sued Irving Galleries and Irving Luntz in Palm Beach County Court.
He claims he paid $13,250 for Roualt’s “Master Arthur,” which the gallery described as a “hand-colored aquatint executed in 1934.”
Levin says that when he bought it he received an appraisal, “executed and certified by Luntz, as a member of the Appraiser’s Association of America,” which valued the work at $15,000.
But 17 years later, Levin says, when he tried to consign the work to Sotheby’s, the auction house rejected it.
He says Sotheby’s wrote him a letter in August 2011, stating: “We have inspected your Roualt ‘Master Arthur’ and unfortunately this is not a hand-colored proof. It does appear to be a working proof as there are slight differences in the coloration in this impression from the numbered edition, but this is an aquatint printed in colors rather than an aquatint printed in black with hand-colored gouache as we expected when we quoted our estimate. I’m afraid a current auction for this print is in the $1,000-2,000 [range] and not suitable for our market.”
Levin says he informed Luntz of the letter, and “Luntz indicated he wanted the artwork back in his collection and agreed to refund the purchase price to Levin.”
But despite two more letters to the gallery, Levin says, Luntz has not paid him the refund.
He seeks $13,250 plus interest and attorney fees, and damages for breach of contract and deceptive trade.
He is represented by Daniel Doorakian.