Warhol Dealer Accused of Bait-and-Switch Scheme


     MANHATTAN (CN) – An art dealer specializing in Andy Warhol photography bamboozled a Warhol aficionado by swapping one picture for a less valuable one of Warhol dressed as a woman, the fan claims.
     Alejandra Rios says she contacted a New York City art dealer named James Hedges to buy a rare Andy Warhol picture. Hedges advertises that he has more than 150 of Warhol’s photographs, according to Rios’ Dec. 1 lawsuit.
     Rios claims she purchased two Warhol Polaroid photographs from Hedges: a picture of musician Miguel Bose for $12,000 and a picture of actress Farrah Fawcett for $24,000. After paying Hedges, Rios says she soon received the Bose picture, but had to wait for the Fawcett photo.
     After weeks of correspondence – during which Hedges’ assistant allegedly assured Rios the Fawcett picture would be coming, and asked whether Rios wanted the picture of Fawcett with “teeth or no teeth?” – Rios says she finally received the second Warhol picture.
     However, while the picture she received was of a blonde, it was not of Fawcett. Instead, Rios claims she received a picture of Warhol dressed in drag.
     The picture, one of many Warhol self portraits, had been listed on Hedges’ website for $18,000, which was $6,000 less than the payment Rios had made for the Fawcett Polaroid, according to the lawsuit.
     Hedges never had the Fawcett picture and instead used a “bait and switch scheme” to “swap out and deliver a less valuable Polaroid,” Rios claims.
     Hedges did not return a message left on his voicemail seeking comment.
     Rios seeks $24,000 for breach of contract, deceptive business practices, breach of good faith and unjust enrichment. She is represented by Adam Russ of Wasser & Russ in New York City.
     Warhol, who was fascinated by the idea of mass-produced artwork, took thousands of Polaroids of himself and famous people (and dogs). Among them are pictures of himself dressed as a woman. Various iterations of his “Self Portrait in Drag” have been featured at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Guggenheim, and other art galleries.

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