A lawsuit between German finance firm FAP and Inigo Philbrick reveals the backstage maneuvering in the market..This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.) The lawsuit in ARTnews’s post yesterday reveals a lot about the state of art dealing today. That is, if you can read past the statement by Christie’s lawyer Jason Pollack in response to examining a “sellers agreement” dealer Inigo Philbrick produced for his former partners, German finance firm FAP. The agreement purported to show a $9m guarantee from Christie’s for a work Philbrick sold in May of this year. FAP sent it to Pollack for verification. In response, Christie’s Pollack, according to court papers, wrote in an email, “We believe that is a falsified document.” That statement may prove to be the drama in the court case but there’s plenty of interesting reading in the rest of the emails. The relationship between FAP and Philbrick is, by most accounts, a common one in an art market where dealer stock has become much too valuable for most dealers to be able to afford. Smart, aggressive, and enterprising young dealers who lack the financial resources to capitalize on opportunities in the marketplace must find ways to acquire inventory. With long experience in the art world, the German financiers entered into an agreement with Philbrick in November of 2015 to fund some of Philbrick’s purchases. The deal would allow FAP to remain the owner of the artworks while Philbrick kept them under his control while seeking buyers. Together, Philbrick and FAP bought three works worth nearly $11m, according to the complaint. The works were two Donald Judd sculptures and a large Rudolf Stingel photorealist painting of Pablo Picasso which would become the subject of that sellers agreement, as outlined in the court papers.
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