Mugrabis dragged into Gagosian legal case

Ongoing lawsuit between the financier Ronald Perelman and the dealer Larry Gagosian


New York. Prominent art world figures may be dragged into the ongoing lawsuit between the financier Ronald Perelman and the dealer Larry Gagosian. Perelman has asked the investor-collectors Alberto, Jose and David Mugrabi to supply documents concerning “what may amount to hundreds of purchase and sale transactions” since January 2010, according to a letter from the Mugrabis’ lawyer filed with the New York State Supreme Court on 15 August.

The dispute began in 2012, when Perelman accused Gagosian of concealing information and manipulating prices in a series of deals. In January, a judge dismissed five of six claims, but allowed a fraud claim to move forward. Both sides have sought to appeal the decision and oral arguments are expected before the end of the year.

One of the disputed deals concerns a painting by Cy Twombly, which the Mugrabis owned for five months before Perelman purchased it from Gagosian. Perelman’s side claims the dealer “manufactured” the transaction with the Mugrabis “to extract an unwarranted premium”, court papers say. The requested documents would illuminate “the broader relationship and business dealings” between Perelman and Gagosian, wrote Perelman’s lawyer.

Gagosian’s lawyer called the request a “fishing expedition”. The Mugrabis’ lawyer wrote that the request “has no rational purpose other than to harass a valued Gagosian customer”.