[intro]”I don’t like that money is inextricably part of the art world.”[/intro]
Crain’s Chicago takes on a Richard Love, a local dealer in American art. The magazine says Love has been sued half a dozen times in the last two years for sums totaling $3m or more. Offering details from at least two of the suits–and interviews with the plaintiffs–Crain’s paints a picture of a dealer short on capital and long on nerve:
“You’ve got to understand how many people have made fortunes on art I’ve sold them. They paid $20,000 and then sold it for $60,000,” he says. “You don’t hear about that. You only hear about the ones that didn’t come off as well as they should have. There are people who say things that aren’t true. Anyone can file a lawsuit.”
The clients now suing him include a Washington, D.C., attorney, a retired surgeon and people he’s had business relationships with for more than 15 years. They relied on Mr. Love to tutor them on American Impressionist art, as Mr. Love has written numerous books (most self-published) on the subject, and help build their collections.
In turn, he guided them toward investments, often in the tens of thousands of dollars, and that’s where some of these relationships went awry.
Love’s accusers say he refuses to account for their art work and has been using the proceeds of sales to buy more stock or fund his business in other ways rather than paying his consignors:
“I don’t like that money is inextricably part of the art world,” he says. “If I could, I’d remove money from the equation.”
An affable art historian, he’s known to wear cowboy boots even when meeting with wealthy art-collector clients in his gallery at 645 N. Michigan Ave. He has spent decades in Chicago studying, writing, lecturing, buying and selling 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century American Impressionist works — he estimates that 17,000 pieces have passed through his hands. He says the late Daniel Terra, founder of the Terra Museum, purchased art from him.
But many of his clients are out of state, and he doesn’t circulate in the city’s gallery scene, which centers primarily on works by living artists.
The Art of the Lawsuit (Crain’s Chicago)