Sotheby’s is suing Anatole Shagalov for payment over a Keith Haring work sold in May of 2017 for $6.5m. That’s the simple version of what’s going on court right now as the above filing from last week details.
There might be more to the story. But it will take time before the art world knows. What we do know is that there hasn’t been a major market correction in either the art or financial markets. As such, there has been little counter-pressure on the misbehavior in the art market.
With art values still rising, buyers are able to bid with the intent to resell the work or re-finance it before flipping it to another buyer. That could be what happened here. Even if that wasn’t the motivation, it seems clear the resale and art financing markets are making it easier for bidders to get themselves into the deep end of the financial pool.
Sotheby’s court filing may be a much-needed reminder that a winning bid is a serious financial matter.