The Mugrabi family, who are behind some of this season’s biggest lots, are having a serious problem. They can’t get access to their art due to a deal with Mana Contemporary, the art storage facility in New Jersey. Mana is holding the family’s nearly 1400 works hostage over an unpaid bill of $500,000. The Mugrabis say the bill is a mis-understanding of an agreement they had with the head of Mana.
More to the point, the Mugrabi family feels the action is out of proportion with the bill. In other words, the family cannot conduct business if their access is cut off to art worth at least $100m but the bill is only for $500,000.
But the case also reveals something more basic, the vulnerability of the Mugrabis to a small misunderstanding. It is now also the second time in two years that the family has been embroiled in legal cases involving firms they do a great deal of business with. The earlier case involved an unpaid lot the family bought at Christie’s.