Asher Edelman’s art lending company Artemus sues Paul Kasmin gallery for “false invoices” in the sale of a Frank Stella painting

Asher Edelman, co-founder of Artemus
© Patrick McMullan

Artemus, the art rental company co-founded by Asher Edelman, is suing the Paul Kasmin gallery in the New York Supreme Court, claiming that the company “created and backdated false invoices” on which Artemus went. supported for the purchase of a Frank Stella painting in 2016.

In her complaint, Artemus argues that when she bought the painting from dealer Anatole Shagalov, the fact that the Paul Kasmin Gallery still retained a 40% share in the work was disguised. Artemus says the gallery created two invoices backdated to 2014, which “falsely represented” that Kasmin had sold Stella’s La Scienza della Fiacca (1984) in its entirety to Shagalov for $ 430,000. While, according to court documents, Shagalov had to pay Kasmin at least an additional $ 168,000 to obtain the full title.

Artemus accuses Kasmin of creating the invoices in conjunction with Shagalov, who sold La Scienza to Edelman’s company in a $ 3.4 million fundraiser, which also included a second work by Stella. , a work by Joseph Cornell and one by Keith Haring. The company uses a model whereby it buys works of art for about 50% of their market value and rents them out to their owner, a form of “art finance”. Artemus claims that the allegedly forged invoices led him to close the deal.

In a statement, the Paul Kasmin Gallery said “it has no relationship with Asher Edelman or his art lending business. The gallery was involved in a dispute concerning a transaction in which it was not involved ”.

Shagalov is not a party to this retrial, but he sued Edelman in the same court last August after Edelman sold part of the $ 3.4 million portfolio to recover unpaid rental fees; Shagalov contested his right to do so. In a counterclaim, Edelman accused Shagalov of forging the same invoices at the center of the new action, which Shagalov categorically denied.

Shagalov’s attorney, Neil Saltzman, said that at the time Shagalov concluded the transaction with Edelman, the Paul Kasmin Gallery “had no ownership rights in the Stella work, and it was not in their possession. physical possession ”.

The Paul Kasmin Gallery seeks to dismiss the new complaint, highlighted this week by the Baer Faxt newsletter, claiming that Artemus is suing to recover the legal costs incurred to defend the lawsuit brought by Shagalov. But, as Kasmin’s lawyer, Amelia Brankov, points out in court documents, this proceeding only began after Edelman attempted to sell works that were part of the funding deal, to which Kasmin did not. was not gone.

Brankov says Artemus also failed to show that the Paul Kasmin gallery intended to defraud the art lending company. The “self-serving, unsupported and unspecified allegations are well below what the law requires to file a fraud complaint,” according to court documents. The next hearing is scheduled for September 11.

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