Paul Kasmin Gallery is being sued by Artemus, a company co-founded by dealer Asher Edelman that provides collectors with loans using their art as collateral, for allegedly falsifying documents related to the 2014 sale of a Frank Stella painting to dealer Anatole Shagalov and his company Nature Morte. Shagalov and Nature Morte are non-parties in the lawsuit, filed last month in New York Supreme Court, but an amended complaint filed this week claims that Kasmin acted in conjunction with Shagalov when creating the allegedly false and backdated documents related to the sale.
According to the complaint, the allegedly falsified documents suggested that Paul Kasmin Gallery had sold the Stella, La Scienza della Fiacca 3.5 X (1984), to Shagalov and Nature Morte for $430,000, when in reality it had only sold a 60 percent interest in the work for that sum, with another $168,000 payment needed to own the work outright. According to the lawsuit, when Shagalov and Nature Morte sought to sell the painting and three other artworks to Artemus in 2016 as part of a $3.4 million deal, the art financing company requested proof of full ownership, allegedly prompting Paul Kasmin Gallery to create documents showing Shagalov had paid $430,000 for the Stella, but not mentioning that another payment of $168,000 was needed to own it outright. Artemus’s complaint claims that the gallery understood “that this invoice falsely represented the true state of affairs.” Artemus is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the Gallery.
“The gallery does not have any dealings with Asher Edelman or his art-lending business,” a spokesperson for Paul Kasmin Gallery told ARTnews. “It has been pulled into a dispute regarding a transaction in which it was not involved.”
The lawsuit, which was first reported by Courthouse News last month and featured in this week’s edition of art world newsletter Baer Faxt, follows a related suit filed one year ago by Shagalov and his company Nature Morte (which has no relation to the Indian gallery of the same name) against Edelman and Artemus. In that case, Shagalov alleged that Artemus had sought to sell artworks he’d put up as collateral for loans—including works by Stella, Keith Haring, and Josef Albers—without permission and “almost from the time they were provided as collateral.”