Art Market

A Miami dealer was accused of withholding works by Kusama, Judd, and others worth $14 million.

Christy Kuesel
Oct 23, 2019 5:12PM, via ARTnews

Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016 (detail). Photo by jpellgen, via Flickr.

A German financial services company is suing a London- and Miami-based gallery for withholding $14 million worth of art the Germany company claims it purchased, including works by Yayoi Kusama, Donald Judd, and Christopher Wool.

Fine Art Partners (FAP) specializes in providing financial services to the art world, including working with artists’ estates and helping dealers buy artworks, according to its website. In a lawsuit filed October 4th in Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County, FAP charges that it bought a number of artworks through dealer Inigo Philbrick and his gallery; the works are allegedly currently being housed in Philbrick’s Miami gallery and the art storage facility Artmoves Florida, also in Miami.

FAP claims Philbrick has refused to move the works to “independent specialist storage facilities,” as FAP says it requested, and has instead tried to market and sell the Judd, Wool, and Kusama works to a third party. FAP also says Philbrick has breached contracts he had signed concerning the ownership and location of the works.

One of the works mentioned in the lawsuit, Kusama’s installation All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016), is currently on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami. The ICA told ARTnews they were unaware of the lawsuit when the exhibition was planned, and they expect to keep the work on view as scheduled through January 31st.

FAP is seeking the return of the works, or “damages in the amount of the value of the artwork, the appreciation in value of the artwork, potential lost profits related to the artwork, and consequential, special, and incidental damages and post-judgment interest at the legal rate,” according to the lawsuit.

Inigo Philbrick’s gallery remains elusive. The lawsuit alleges the gallery’s space in Miami has appeared closed since an investigation by FAP on September 13th, though the gallery also maintains an office in London. The most recent exhibition on its website, a Bridget Riley and Jeff Elrod show, closed on August 31st.

Christy Kuesel