(CN) – Harvard Medical School wrongly laid claim to a set of antique medical kits and blocked a dealer from selling them at auction, he claims in court.
John Curuby, an antiques dealer from Boston, sued the prestigious institution Friday in the Superior Court of Suffolk County, Mass.
At issue are a pair of 18th century wooden medical kits in wooden cases, and two 19th century medical kids, also in wooden cases.
Curuby says he reached out to the Warren Anatomical Museum, located in Harvard’s Countway Library, about selling it the kits in September 2002.
When “Harvard made no attempt to claim these artifacts,” Curuby consigned them in 2011 to Grogan & Co., according to the complaint.
With the auction expected to achieve “a significant profit,” Harvard wrote an Oct. 7, 2011, to Grogan, “claiming that the kits were stolen property belonging to Harvard,” Curuby claims.
Curuby says back in 2002 Harvard never indicated to him that it believed the items were missing or stolen from its collection.
“Harvard failed to apprise Grogan & Company of the fact that Harvard had been on notice of Curuby’s purchase of the kits for more than nine (9) years and had failed to assert any purported ownership claim within the applicable statute of limitation, and thus had no claim of title to the kits,” the complaint states.
Curuby says the dispute led Grogan to cancel the auction.
“To date, Harvard has failed to provide any evidence that the kits were stolen from its collection or to take any action to enforce its purported ownership rights,” according to the lawsuit.
Harvard Medical School did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Defendants include the Harvard Medical School; the Francis A. Countway Medical Library; and the Warren Anatomical Museum.
Curuby seeks a declaration from the courts that he is the rightful owner of the kits, along with unspecified damages.
He is represented by Robert Holloway with MacLean Holloway Doherty in Peabody.
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