Judge tosses art collectors' lawsuit over labeling Haring works fakes

Fri Mar 6, 2015 7:26pm EST
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(Reuters) - A federal judge in New York on Friday dismissed a $40 million lawsuit by art collectors against the foundation of late painter Keith Haring, which has said about 80 works owned by the collectors were fakes.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote granted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against The Keith Haring Foundation that was filed last year by Elizabeth Bilinski and other collectors, according to court documents.

Cote dismissed claims of antitrust violations and false advertising. She also rejected separate claims made under New York state law.

The collectors had said they purchased the artwork from friends of Haring, who died in 1990. His work focused on New York's 1980s street culture, often with political or social messages.

The foundation owns works by Haring valued at about $25 million in 2011, according to Cote's 35-page decision.

The lawsuit had claimed that the foundation had rejected the authenticity of the art works owned by the collectors in 2007 and refused to review more evidence provided later by the collectors before stating they were fakes.

About 80 works said to be by Haring were shown in Miami in March 2013. Two days later, the foundation filed a lawsuit to shut the exhibition down, alleging the works were counterfeits.

The show's promoter agreed to remove the works from the exhibit and the collectors failed to sell any of them, the lawsuit contended. Sales at the Miami show would have fetched at least $40 million, it said.

The collectors claimed that the Haring works were effectively unsellable in major auction houses if they were not first certified by the foundation.   Continued...

File photo of visitors as they look at "untitled, 1982" art creation by American artist Keith Haring (1958-1990) during his exhibition retrospective at the Musee d’Art Moderne (Modern Art Museum) in Paris April 18, 2013. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer