Fight over a Brancusi Sculpture

MANHATTAN (CN) – A Norwegian art collector claims two brothers who owned the Constantin Brancusi sculpture “Miss Pogany” agreed to sell it to him for 4 million euros, then used the signed purchase contract to get a better deal from a New York studio. Christian Sveaas sued David Martinez, Dominique Levy, Studio Capital and L&M Arts in New York County Court.

     Sveaas claims two brothers, Alexandru and Alvaro Botez, bought the famous sculpture from their uncle, with each brother getting a half share. Sveaas claims he entered two contracts in July 2007 with the Botez brothers, granting him the right to buy the piece.
     “Notwithstanding these contracts, defendants, acting wrongfully and in illicit concert with their co-conspirators, the Botez Brothers and their agents, purportedly entered contracts and took other actions to deny Sveaas his right to own and possess ‘Miss Pogany’, and to transfer title and possession of ‘Miss Pogany’ to defendant Studio,” according to the complaint.
     “As a result of these actions, Studio has claimed that it owns and has the right to possess ‘Miss Pogany’, and Sveaas has been denied ownership and possession of ‘Miss Pogany’. In fact, defendants and the Botez Brothers have moved ‘Miss Pogany’ across jurisdictions and avoided compliance with duly issued orders issued by French courts so as to make it difficult if not impossible to make ‘Miss Pogany’ subject to the jurisdiction of any court in which any defendants may be sued.”
     Sveaas seeks ownership of the sculpture and punitive damages of $150 million, alleging conversion, conspiracy to commit tortious interference, breach of contract, trespass to chattels, and aiding and abetting. He is represented by Louis Solomon with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

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