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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Oh, to the Courts|They Will Go

MANHATTAN (CN) - A New York gallery lost "two rare and very valuable" consigned artworks from Dr. Seuss's book "You're Only Old Once!" two collectors claim in court.

James Otis and Clifford Davis sued the Illustration House Gallery, its founder Walt Reed and president Roger Reed, in New York County Supreme Court.

Dr. Seuss -Theodor Seuss Geisel - wrote 44 children's books, including "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham," and also produce a significant body of work for adults. During the World War II-era, for example, he wrote anti-fascist political cartoons recounted in the book "Dr. Seuss Goes to War."

Otis and Davis say that they jointly bought artworks associated with one of his rare picture books for adults - "You're Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children" - in October 2008.

They say they consigned the works to the Chelsea-based Illustration House Gallery on Nov. 13, 2012, expecting the pieces to be sold or returned within 60 days.

The defendants estimated that each work was worth $75,000, the collectors say.

Otis claims he contacted the gallery by phone and email shortly after the consignment period expired, Roger Reed told him that "the two Dr. Seuss artworks were missing and could not be located by Illustration House, Inc. staff."

"On or around April 17, 2013, Illustration House, Inc. administrative assistant Maura McHugh advised plaintiff Otis by e-mail that Illustration House, Inc. would contact the plaintiffs as soon as Illustration House, Inc. had located the artworks," the complaint states.

McHugh is not a party to the complaint.

About a week later, Otis claims, he told McHugh he "would need the two Dr. Seuss artworks within ten (10) days so that the works could be displayed at the art gallery of Linda Jones Enterprises."

Otis claims he lost the opportunity to sell to an interested buyer weeks later, in May, because the works had not been returned.

The Illustration House did not immediately respond to a request for comment left after business hours.

Otis and Davis allege seek replevin and damages for conversion, breach of consignment agreement and breach of fiduciary duty.

They are represented by Chris Van Kirk, of Geneva, N.Y.

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