A childhood friend of David Ramus, the art dealer who crashed and burned in the 90s and eventually wrote a terrible novel about it (for which he was paid $1m by the publisher,) was convinced to lend him money under the guise of an interest in Andrew Wyeth’s painting “The Ice Storm” which was just sold at Christie’s this May for nearly $1m with fees:
Plaintiff Reed Galin, a former TV news anchor from Tennessee, demands the proceeds of that sale in a lawsuit that he filed on Wednesday against the Japanese gallery that consigned the painting for auction.
The defendants, collector Kunitaki Hamada and his Gallery Hamada, denied any wrongdoing through their attorney.
Galin alleges that the gallery should have known the painting’s provenance was fishy because it once belonged to his lifelong friend David Ramus, who was convicted of defrauding dozens of art collectors in 1996.
“The story of Ramus’ rise and fall was major news in the art world at that time, and was widely reported,” the complaint notes.
Ramus stacked up millions in debt before taking a heroin-fueled nosedive that landed him a federal prison sentence, national media attention and a literary career writing thrillers about the art-world underbelly.
Well before that, however, Galin says that Ramus convinced him to pay more than $106,000 for a partial interest in “Ice Storm,” with a promise that he would get a return on his investment plus 25 percent of any resale of the painting.
Art Crime Tempest Brews Again Over ‘Ice Storm’ (Courthouse News Service)