Howard Rehs runs a New York gallery and keeps in close touch with all levels of the art world. In this excerpt from his monthly newsletter he tells a few quick stories of art dealers lured into questionable activities:
Lucy Leffler Knopf – an auctioneer in Oregon – has found herself on the dark side. The Oregon Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Ms. Knopf and her auction firm charging them with several violations of Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act and elder abuse. They have charged that Knopf accepted material for auction and then either sold, or was unable to account for, the items. In addition, there were instances where the charges imposed for the sale of items left the consigner with almost nothing, or had them actually owing money to the auctioneer … talk about seller’s commissions! It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
Anthony Bonneau – former owner of T’s Family Auction in Cairo, NY, was sentenced to two and one-third to seven years in prison for failing to pay $27,000 to Valerie Ducos after auctioning her art. The judge ordered Bonneau to pay $27,363 in restitution and a $1,368 surcharge. In addition he referred to the auctioneer as “a swindler, a drifter, and auction house grifter” — hum … might make good lyrics for a song.