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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Woman Wants Her Renoir Back

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Beverly Hills woman sued her cousin for $10 million, claiming he promised to "store" and take care of her paintings by Renoir and J.M.W. Turner, along with crystal, silver, and other valuables. Bambi Byrens says her cousin Barry Semler won't tell her where the stuff is, and won't give it back.

In her Superior Court Complaint, Byrens says that in June 2010 Semler "sent his son and other individuals on his behalf to Byrens' home in Beverly Hills, with the purported intention of taking and 'storing' some of Byrens' valuable personal items, including but not limited to valuable artwork and specifically paintings, as well as numerous other family heirlooms including but not limited to valuable crystal and silver."

Byrens says that Semler told her he was worried about the safety of the property, since it "could be removed by a visitor or worker without Byrens' knowledge."

She says Semler promised to take care of the stuff and return it when she asked.

She's been asking since October 2010, in person and through her attorneys, but "Semler has repeatedly refused to return the property, and has additionally

Attempted to attach other purported terms to the return of the property, such as the payment of varying sums of money, or the execution of indemnification agreements regarding unrelated matters," according to the complaint.

Byrens claims that Semler admits that the property is not his, that he has no legal claim to it, and that "Byrens has not given Barry Semler, nor anyone else, title or ownership interest in the property, all of which must legally be returned to Byrens immediately."

She adds that she is suffering "financial distress caused by the failure ... to return the property so that plaintiff may sell some of it to pay her debts and ongoing financial obligations."

She wants all her stuff back, punitive damages for conversion, and costs. She is represented by J. Scott Humphrey with Henderson Humphrey of Playa Vista.

The complaint does not state which Renoir or Turner paintings are at issue.

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