There’s been a tug of war going on between the US Attorney and the bankruptcy trustee over the art collection amassed by Marc Dreier, the lawyer who was running a Ponzi scheme to maintain an opulent life. The collection includes works by Matisse, Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella, as well as prints by Damien Hirst, David Hockney and Jasper Johns. Now the bankruptcy judge is about to rule on whether 80 of the failed firm’s 300 works can be sold at Phillips de Pury in November.
“These are major artists with international reputations,” trustee Sheila M. Gowan of Diamond McCarthy said in an interview, adding that a professional art adviser helped Dreier curate his collection. Gowan said she hopes the notoriety that has surrounded Dreier’s case increases the turnout for the auction. […]Until earlier this year, prosecutors from the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office and the trustee had been battling over control of the collection, which represents a fraction of the more than 300 works seized by the government in the months following Dreier’s arrest in December 2008. Earlier this year, Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who sentenced Dreier to 20 years in prison for peddling $700 million in phony real estate and promissory notes, approved a coordination agreement involving Gowan and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The agreement authorized the government to hand over to Gowan 97 of the 300 recovered artworks that had not been traced to Dreier’s crimes.