The work of Theodoros Stamos has been percolating through day sales for several years now trying to break out and establish a market for the artist. Those efforts have been supported by the Hollis Taggert gallery which took booths full of Stamos’s work to several art fairs in recent years. Even with all of that, prices just recently started peeking up over the $250,000 market.
Yet, even though his market has not been fully established, Artinfo reports on a the background to a court case over the painter’s estate.
“When Stamos died, there was nothing,” said Louis Meisel, an art dealer in New York who temporarily represented Stamos and owns a number of his paintings. The legal messiness began way back in 1995, when an ill Stamos wrote a letter granting [Zacharias Georgiou] Portalakis, his friend and collector, the right to all his copyrights. The letter also identified him as the sole authenticator of his paintings, people familiar with the case said. “Many people in the art world believe an artist can appoint somoene as his legal authenticator. Not so,” said lawyer Alan Sugarman, who is representing the plaintiffs. Stamos contradicted the letter in a will finalized before his death in 1997, granting authority over his estate to his sister Georgianna Savas and a cousin in Greece, though he said nothing of authentication.
Since then, Portalakis has obtained an order of seizure from a Greek court for two Stamos works estimated at approximately $30,000 each that were to be sold at a Greek auction house because he said they were fake, and used the letter to illustrate his authority. “Here in New York, the case would have been tossed out of court in 60 days,” said Sugarman. Back in the United States, Savas, Stamos’s sister, recently filed a $15 million claim against Portalakis in federal court to compel him to return a number of Stamos canvases, according to Courthouse News. People familiar with the case said Portalakis acquired a number of Stamos works from the family after promising to build a museum for them, but the museum was never built.