Art market

“Fake” Picasso is warning to make deals formal

Court to rule on payment “held in trust”

New York

A Manhattan court has been asked to enter a judgement in the absence of the defendants in the case of a Picasso drawing which the buyer says was a fake. On 14 June, New York art dealer Chantal Park, and her dealership, Art History, requested an award of at least $145,000, saying that in July 2005, the defendants “willfully and knowingly” sold her a fake work which they represented as “a drawing by the world-famous artist Pablo Picasso”, entitled Personnage Endormi et Femme Accroupie. The defendants include a Georgia dealer, Charles Locke, who Ms Park says sold the work to her on behalf of the owners. Mr Locke’s co-defendants are dealer Luigi Cugini of Maynard, Massa­chusetts, and others.

On 14 June, according to Ms Park’s lawyer, Malcolm Taub, the defendants did not appear in court to oppose Ms Park’s motion for judgement, and filed no opposition papers.

In 2005, Ms Park had a client who was interested in acquiring a Picasso drawing, and after making enquiries, she was introduced to Mr Locke, a dealer in Duluth, Georgia, as having such a Picasso, Mr Taub said. Ms Park first saw the work via email. While the case seemed to raise questions as to the use of email images in art sales, Mr Taub told The Art Newspaper that it is common practice today for images of potential purchases to be viewed by email. According to Ms Park, Mr Locke requested payment of the purchase price of $145,000 to be held pending approval, which she paid.

Ms Park alleges that she later sent the drawing to Paris, to be viewed by Maya Picasso, daughter of the artist; she rejected it as a fake. It was determined that the work “has no value”, Ms Park says, in an affidavit. Her client rejected the purchase, she says, but the defendants refused to reimburse her, says Ms Park.

Ms Park says that it “was always understood” that the purchase price was to be held in trust by Mr Locke, and not delivered to Mr Cugini, until the drawing was approved by Ms Park’s client. Despite this, she says, Mr Locke delivered part of the purchase price to Mr Cugini.

Mr Taub said the case was “a textbook example of how not to do a deal”. He added that buyers “should follow formalities in sales of artwork”.

Attempts made by The Art Newspaper to contact Mr Locke were not successful. The case continues.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 182 July 2007