In a complaint filed Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court, global mega-gallery Gagosian and one of its most famous artists, Jeff Koons, issued a sweeping response to the collector Steven Tananbaum, who in April sued the gallery and the artist over what he called “non-delivery” of three works by Koons, for which he had paid $13 million. He compared the contract that he agreed to—where he was asked to continually pay for the works even as the production schedule kept on getting delayed—to a money-sucking scheme, calling it “a garden-variety, interest-free, fraudulent financial routine that harkens the name Ponzi.”
But in a motion to dismiss, the defendants recast the narrative, painting a picture of an impatient collector unfamiliar with Koons’s time-consuming perfectionist studio practice:
Although the Gallery has met all of its obligations under the Purchase Agreements, Mr. Tananbaum now claims that he has the right to walk away because the artist is purportedly taking too long to create the Works and Mr. Tananbaum is not prepared to “wait” any longer. But the imperious demands of a multimillionaire who no longer wants to wait cannot trump the plain and unambiguous language of the Purchase Agreements, which do not require Mr. Koons to create the Works by any specified deadline.
The motion goes on to explain that no contract was ever breached because the purchase agreement stated clearly that delivery times were only “estimated.” A stipulation agreement states that the plaintiff’s opposition papers will be filed by August 23, and the defense will reply to this by September 13.