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Sotheby’s Conceals Interest In Art|To Boost Its Profits, Buyer Says

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Sotheby's hides its economic interest in property it auctions off, deceiving clients into bidding up the price, according to a federal class action. Halsey Minor paid $8.6 million for the painting "The Peaceable Kingdom with the Leopard of Serenity."

Minor claims Sotheby's Executive Vice President and Director of the American Paintings Department, acting as his art consultant and purchasing agent, advised him how much he should bid on the "Peaceable Kingdom" painting. He says the VP failed to mention that the seller owed Sotheby's millions of dollars and that the advised bid greatly exceeded Sotheby's own valuation of the work.

He claims Sotheby's scheme allows the largest fine art auctioneer in the world to recoup debts and maximize returns by duping its customers into making inflated bids.

Minor alleges fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. He wants his money back and he wants Sotheby's ordered to disclose its interests in auctioned property.

He and the proposed class are represented by Eric George with Dreier, Stein of Los Angeles.

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