DALLAS (CN) – A Texan claims New York art dealers told him that if he paid $12 million for three works of art he could buy a fourth piece for $30 million, and resell it at a profit. But after he forked over the $12 million, he says, the dealers said they didn’t have the right to sell him the fourth painting after all.
James Sowell sued Michael Altman, Michael Altman Fine Art and Advisors, Warren Adelson, and Adelson Galleries, in Dallas County Court.
The complaint does not specify anything about the four artworks involved: who made them, whether they are old or modern, only that the defendants claimed they “had a connection with a person who owned four (4) pieces of extremely valuable art.”
According to the complaint: “In 2010, defendants approached plaintiff with a business proposition. Defendants expressly represented to plaintiff that they bad a connection with a person who owned four (4) pieces of extremely valuable art (the ‘Seller’). According to defendants, if plaintiff purchased the first three (3) paintings at a price of twelve million dollars ($12,000,000.00) the seller agreed that plaintiff and defendants would be able to represent the seller in the sale of the fourth painting. Defendants specifically represented to plaintiff that the seller agreed to accept thirty million dollars ($30,000,000.00) for the sale of the fourth painting and that plaintiff and defendants could keep any amounts they were able to obtain in the sale above that price. So, for example, under the deal defendants allegedly reached with seller, if the fourth painting sold for sixty million dollars ($60,000,000.00), the seller would get thirty million dollars ($30,000,000.00) and plaintiff and defendants would split the remaining thirty million dollars ($30,000,000.00).”
Sowell says would not have paid the $12 million “without the corresponding opportunity to obtain a significant gain and profit off of the sale of the fourth painting.”
He adds: “As it turned out, defendants, as they now concede, did not have the right to sell the fourth painting when they made such representations or on the terms purported. They now claim to have been given authority from the seller at a much later time and on much less economically desirable terms. The value of the transaction has been drastically diluted, decreased, devalued and eviscerated.”
Sowell wants his $12 million back, and punitive damages for fraud, conspiracy, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of conspiracy duty.
He is represented by Eric Gambrell with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.