News of Sotheby’s Lawsuit Brings Up Bad Memories
Today’s news in Bloomberg, The Daily News and the NY Post of Sotheby’s lawsuit against Halsey Minor, the serial entrepreneur best known for CNET.com which was sold to CBS for nearly $2 billion earlier this year, reveals several pieces of information. First that Minor bought Edward Hicks’s “Peaceable Kingdom” and Childe Hassam’s “Paris, Winter Day” (pictured) even if he refuses to pay for them.
Second, even though Minor claims the dispute is over Sotheby’s disclosure of an ownership intererst in the Hicks, the conflict will remind some art market watchers that Minor has a history in the market for American paintings. This is not the first time his buying has ended in frustrations. Here’s Carol Vogel’s story from November 2002 about Minor’s sale of American Modern works at a loss. Minor had been using the art as an ATM by running up $16 million in loans and eventually selling some works for a $10 million loss and setting himself up for further pain. [Update: Minor contacted Art Market Monitor to make it clear that he did not sell these works because of debt as the article suggests.]
But Minor didn’t see it as pain at the time. Here’s what he told Vogel:
”I like art, but I’ve always looked at it as an investment,” Mr. Minor said in a recent telephone interview. ”When the CNET stock was at $35 to $55 a share, I decided to buy physical assets like art and real estate. Now the stock is at $3.50. I wish the art was worth the same as it was when I paid for it, but I still think I came out ahead. When I look at people who kept all their money in the market, I thank my lucky stars.”
Inside Art: The Americans, At Lower Prices (The New York Times)