The French art collector Marc Baradel is suing two insurance companies, art financier Asher Edelman, and his firms over alleged damage to his Constantin Brancusi sculpture valued at $22.5 million.
Baradel consigned the work—a sculpture made up of three marble stones and titled Le Poisson (ca. 1920–22), part of a series of sculptures of abstracted marine life—to Edelman in the summer of 2018, but it was allegedly returned damaged, the “obvious conclusion” being that “the main marble stone was broken in half.” The lawsuit does not address how the damage may have occurred. Baradel is seeking over $22.5 million in damages from Edelman, and more than $5 million from the work’s insurers, Chicago-based HUB and Lloyd’s of London.
According to the lawsuit, the sculpture underwent repair work after the damage, but was nonetheless “a total loss.” However, an appraisal report from June of this year, filed as an attachment to the lawsuit, estimated that the Brancusi had lost 75 percent of its value—about $16.8 million—due to the damage. The report put its value, post-repair, at $5.6 million.
Baradel’s lawsuit is the second filed in recent months by a Brancusi collector claiming he’s been wronged. Last month, New York-based collector Stuart Piver filed a lawsuit against attorney John McFadden claiming he’d duped the collector into selling him a Brancusi sculpture for $100,000. In his lawsuit, Piver sought $200 million in damages. The auction record for a work by Brancusi is $71 million, and was set in May 2018 at Christie’s in New York.