Art law News USA

New York studio’s lawsuit over unfinished prints to go ahead

Brand X Editions wants Christopher Wool to fulfil their alleged agreement

Brand X Editions, a Long Island City studio, works with a number of high-profile artists

A lawsuit against Christopher Wool and his gallery, Luhring Augustine, over a series of unfinished prints, will go ahead after a New York state judge ruled on 2 January to largely deny a motion to dismiss.

The suit was brought by Brand X Editions, a Long Island City studio that was working with Wool on a series of 60 monoprints. Brand X wants to enforce an alleged agreement under which it would pay the production costs of the prints and retain one-third of them.

According to Brand X’s complaint, all went well until someone from Luhring Augustine admired the prints. Then Wool, realising they were worth more than anticipated, tried to change the contract “to get the deal he wishes he made rather than the one he did make”, the court papers say.

First, he allegedly demanded Brand X take only one-quarter of the prints and when that was rejected he offered to pay all the costs and retain all the prints. “Now, [he] simply refuses to work until he gets his way,” says Brand X.

Wool and Luhring Augustine argued that Brand X’s breach of contract claim should be dismissed because there wasn’t a written agreement, as required in New York for the sale of goods worth more than $500.

The judge, though, said the agreement was not for a sale but for a collaboration to create works of art, so a written contract wasn’t necessary: “Wool… provided artistic vision… Brand X [brought] Wool’s vision to life.” The division of the prints between them “is an agreement to divide the fruits of the parties’ joint venture”.

The judge added that even if a written contract were required, Brand X’s emails to Wool covered that: “Brand X’s emails set forth the parameters of the parties’ agreement. Wool never objected. Instead… Wool created more than half the agreed upon work… It was only after Wool realized that the value of the artwork would be more than anticipated that he sought to revise the terms of the deal.”

Brand X is seeking to have Wool complete the series or pay damages of $6m, which its attorney David Pohl says is less than the value of the prints it is entitled to under the agreement.

“No evidence has been heard in the case yet… In due course, the true facts will emerge and Mr Wool and Luhring Augustine Gallery will be vindicated,” says their attorney Roger Netzer.

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14 Mar 14
17:38 CET


Sometimes happens... The artist loose his self in this reciprocal relationship. And that happens when he looks up the amount of money that the other party will win, but forget the amount he will also get. An unpleasant situation to see a hero like Christopher Wool be affected by this momentary blindness. I hope that the parties will adjust to what was originally treated and never let them selves lose in contention to win this silly discussion. Am I thinking wrongly? Best to all of them..

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