It’s hard to summarize the complaint in this case but the documents say that a Swiss group offered a Japanese collection of nearly 200 European art works to an American dealer for €315m. But when it came time to pay, the Swiss went away.
If nothing else, it’s a fascinating look inside of a very large international art transaction that never happened.
Here’s the WSJ summarizing the complaint:
The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court and seeking $204 million, alleges that ArtAssure, Mr. Edelman’s firm, was wrongly led to believe by Artmentum and its associates last spring that Japan’s Hiroshima Art Museum was trying to sell roughly $400 million in art by masters from the late 19th- and early 20th centuries.
The complaint alleges the art was never actually for sale, and the financial details provided by Artmentum about the collection—including that the Hiroshima Bank 8379.TO 0.00% owned the museum works and the Japanese government owned the majority interest in Hiroshima Bank—were false. A person who answered the phone at Artmentum on Friday said he didn’t speak English and hung up. […] The complaint alleges fraudulent inducement to enter a contract, continuing fraud during the existence of the contract and breach of contract.
Attempts to reach the Hiroshima Art Museum and Hiroshima Bank were unsuccessful on Friday. The last three annual reports for the Hiroshima Bank state that the Japanese government owned 0% of its stock.