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Trouble Brewing at The Met

MANHATTAN (CN) - A company planning to sell a 12th century sculpted Head of King David sued the Metropolitan Museum of Art, claiming the Met "will publicly deny the genuineness" of its piece, as the Met has an identical item.

Latipac Inc. sued the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a 2-page Summons with Notice. The document identifies the art at issue only as "Item 38.180 (Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1938)."

The Met's website identifies the piece as a 12th century Head of Kind David, carved in limestone. The nose has been defaced.

During the French Revolution, citizens desecrated the heads decorating the portals of Notre Dame in Paris, thinking they represented the ancient kings of France, the Met says in its description of the piece.

The Met says its head came from the south portal of the west façade of the church. The museum dates its creation to ca. 1145.

In its lawsuit, Latipac mentions "(i)dentical pieces of art, one owned by the museum ... and the other by the plaintiff."

Latipac does not identify itself in the summons, beyond its address, at 1000 Fifth Ave. in New York City. It appears to be a property management firm.

Latipac says in the complaint that it "imminently intends to publicly market and sell its piece as genuine and understands that the defendant will publicly deny the genuineness of plaintiff's piece."

Latipac seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to defend itself from "slander of title; defamation (libel and slander); interference with prospective economic relations; injurious falsehood; product disparagement; violation of NY GBL [General Business Law] §§ 392-b, 396-b; and breach of defendant's Collection Management Policy of which plaintiff is an intended third-party beneficiary."

Little more information, if any, is contained in the 2-page document.

Neither Latipac nor the Met could be reached for comment when this story was written, at 4 a.m. New York time today.

Latipac is represented by Brian DeLaurentis in New York County Supreme Court.

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