Donor Claims Charity Rolled Him for $30,000

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Los Angeles man claims in court that an online charity auction defrauded him of $30,000, claiming he would be sole sponsor and patron of a mural by artist Shepard Fairey in the pediatric wing of Los Angeles County/USC Hospital.



     Jeremy Larner sued The Art of Elysium and Charitybuzz in Superior Court.
     Larner claims he wired the money to the defendants, who named him the winning bidder in early 2011. Then, Lamer says, they strung him along for more than a year, until Fairey’s mural was completed, without naming rights, an unveiling reception, or Larner’s creative input.
     (Nonparty Shepard Fairey designed the Obama “Hope” poster for the 2008 presidential election. Fairey then became embroiled in litigation with an Associated Press photographer, who claimed Fairey based the poster on his photo.)
     The Art of Elysium, a nonprofit, enlists artist-volunteers to teach children with serious medical conditions.
     Larner claims that after he received a receipt of payment from (nonparty) Maggie Simmons of Charitybuzz, he spent the next 15 months chasing Art of Elysium representative (nonparty) Eli Consilvio.
     Larner claims he made repeatedly sought updates on the project, and was put off.
     He claims he was subjected to a prank phone call, allegedly from a colleague of Consilvio, who called him to talk about the mural but then laughed “sneeringly” at Larner, allegedly while Consilvio was present.
     Larner says that after Consilvio sent him an email claiming that the county had placed the mural on “temporary hold,” he asked for his money back. But Larner says he hasn’t received a cent.
     Larner claims that though Fairey completed the mural, there are no permanent naming rights, and there never was an unveiling reception.
     “After significant follow-up correspondence from Larner, and numerous promises regarding the Shepard Fairey mural installation – as well as a defamatory prank phone call made under the direction and/or approval from a representative of The Art of Elysium to Larner – none of what was promised in the Auction ever materialized,” according to the 19-page complaint.
     Charitybuzz spokeswoman Glenda Luft Felden told Courthouse News that the group hoped “to reach an amicable resolution.”
     “We value our relationship with both Mr. Larner, a generous and philanthropic bidder, and Art of Elysium, which brings joy and support to children battling serious medical conditions through art. We hope to quickly reach an agreement that satisfies everyone involved,” Felden wrote in an email.
     Larner seeks damages for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, false advertising, conversion, rescission based on fraud, and rescission based on failure of consideration.
     He is represented by Thomas Speiss with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith.
     Art of Elysium did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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