Investor Fears Her Warhols May Be Rip-Offs

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A New York art-dealer duped a hands-off investor into buying a collection of bogus Andy Warhol paintings, a petition filed in New York Supreme Court claims.
     In her June 30 filing, Nira Levine, president of Oregon-based NLR Unlimited, claims that in October 2008, Woodward Gallery convinced her to invest in a collection of ninety Andy Warhol prints entitled “Spacefruit Prints 1979.”
     During their discussions, she says, the parties agreed to jointly purchase the prints for $180,000.00, splitting the cost 50/50.
     Woodward Gallery is a New York fine arts gallery owned by John Woodward and Kristine Woodward, originally incorporated under the name G.O.L.A. (Gallery of Living Artists).
     Levine had a long history with the Woordwards, relying on their expertise as she sought out fine art to purchase as investments. Between September 2002 and November 2008, the petition says, Levine bought about 140 paintings, worth an estimated $874,000.
     However, Levine says that when followed up on the authenticity of the “Spacefruit Prints 1979” in July 2014, she discovered through a restorer’s condition report that the collection consisted of 76 prints, 63 of which had been deemed inauthentic by the Warhol Authentication Board.
     Levine says the report differed significantly from one provided to her by the Woodwards, and she suspects they purposefully removed any references that cast the authenticity of the works into doubt.
     Woodward said in a letter to Levine that when they first acquired the prints “many years ago,” they “were worthless pieces of paper, because they were not part of known Warhol print edition, but we knew them to be genuine.”
     Levine relies on that statement to assert the Woodward purchased the collection long before they encouraged her to invest in it.
     Levine is seeking a discovery order compelling the gallery to disclose all documentation of acquisition and sale for the rest of the approximately 140 pieces of art that were jointly purchased for Levine by the Woodwards.
     The collection is composed of a veritable “who’s who” of 20th Century painters, including the iconic pop art of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist, along with the street art of Keith Haring and Richard Hambleton, as well as a Jean-Michel Basquiat and a half dozen paintings attributed to Alexander Calder.
     In addition to the documentation, Levine is also seeking a court order that John and Kristine Woodward each provide depositions on the purchases.
     Levine says she intends pursue a civil action against Woodward for on counts of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary, fraud and conversion.
     Christies Auction House currently has a set of six Warhol “Space Fruit” still lifes for auction, estimated to be worth $40,000 – $60,000.
     Levine is represented by Carter Reich from Nicholas Goodman & Associates in New York.
     Representatives from Woodward Gallery did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

%d bloggers like this: