CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) – A gallery owner has sued Sotheby’s and a man who claims to own a Salvador Dali work that the auction house sold for $220,000. Philip Coffaro claims he owns the mixed-media work, “Folle Folle Folle Minerva,” which he had to buy twice.
Coffaro, who runs a gallery in Mineola, claims he bought the piece for $40,000 in 1990 from a man known as Julien Aime aka Julian Heiserman aka Julian Von Heiserman. Heiserman allegedly had acquired it through Christie’s auction house.
Shortly after he bought it, Coffaro says, he loaned it to defendant David Crespo. He claims Crespo refused his demands to return it, and in 2005 Coffaro learned that Heiserman had it again. He claims Crespo gave it to Heiserman to pay off a debt.
Coffaro says he “reacquired the artwork” from Heiserman for $40,000. In November 2007, Coffaro says, he consigned it to Sotheby’s, which sold it at auction in February this year for 130,000 English pounds – about $220,000.
Now Crespo claims he owns the piece, and wants the $220,000, the complaint states. As a result, Sotheby’s is holding onto the money.
Coffaro demands declaratory judgment and damages for conversion and slander of title. He is represented in Federal Court by Adam Browser of Uniondale.