SARASOTA, Fla. (CN) – An art consultant demands 4 percent from the prospective sale of two paintings, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and Giorgione, which could be worth more than $150 million. At issue are the paintings “Christ Among the Doctors” attributed to da Vinci, and “Marcus Aurelius Between Philosophers” by Giorgione.
Jeffrey Dering sued the Harrington Giorgione Family Limited Partnership and the Harrington Da Vinci Family Limited Partnership in Sarasota County Court.
Dering claims the owners of the paintings fired him this year after more than 15 years of expert consulting, but he is entitled to his commission from any future sale whether they fired him or not.
Dering, who says he has more than 35 years experience in fine art management and marketing, says he began working with art collectors John and Elfriede Harrington in 1995.
Neither John nor Elfriede Harrington is named as a defendant.
Dering says he helped the Harringtons with the management, marketing and prospective sale of two paintings – “Christ Among the Doctors” by da Vinci, and “Marcus Aurelius Between Philosophers” by Giorgione.
Some scholars dispute the attribution of “Christ Among the Doctors” to Leonardo, and attribute it to Bernardino Luini, who often worked in the style of Leonardo.
(Art historians Eugene Markowski and Klara Garas are among those who believe it’s a da Vinci, according to their study, “A Protocol for Authentication of Paintings.” Garas, who spent 20 years as director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, claims the painting has been owned by the prominent Martinelli family, of Italy, since the 16th century. The late John Harrington bought the painting from the Martinellis in 1984.)
Dering, who specializes in fine art authentication, provenance and forensic analysis, says he performed an in-depth analysis of each painting and prepared extensive reports for the Harringtons.
In May 1999, Dering says, he signed an agreement with the Harringtons “concerning the administration, marketing and prospective sale of the paintings.”
“According to the terms of the May 21, 1999 contract, ‘it is understood that the Harrington agrees that Dering shall receive a fee equal to four (4%) percent of any and all combined gross income received by the Harrington, as a result of any and all sales and/or financial transactions of the Harrington Leonardo da Vinci and Giorgione paintings which are equal to or less than one-hundred-fifty-million ($150,000,000.00 US) dollars in value to the Harrington,'” the complaint states.
“Section 5.0 of the May 21, 1999 contract states ‘it is understood that the Harrington agrees that Dering shall receive a fee equal to ten (10%) percent of any and all combined gross income received by the Harrington, as a result of any and all sales and/or financial transactions of the Harrington Leonardo da Vinci and Giorgione paintings which are greater than one-hundred-fifty-million ($150,000,000.00 US) dollars in value to the Harrington.'”
Dering says that despite the contract, the Harringtons claim he is entitled to only 2 percent commission, “whether or not Dering introduces the ultimate buyer.”
Dering seeks declaratory judgment that he should receive at least 4 percent from any sale of the works at issue, and damages for anticipatory breach of contract.
He is represented by Robert Drean with Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg.