The Korean gallery One and J. is suing auction house Christie’s in Manhattan Supreme Court for allegedly selling a Francis Bacon painting in a private deal for “a bargain-basement price,” as One and J.’s petition puts it. The gallery has also filed a summons naming Manhattan art gallery Van de Weghe and collector David Rogath as the buyers of the painting, which the lawsuit doesn’t name “to avoid diminishing the painting’s value.”
According to the petition, the Seoul-based gallery brought the Bacon to Christie’s for appraisal in October 2017 and the auction house said that the work would not sell for less than $10 million. Christie’s then agreed to arrange a private sale of the painting, and provided One and J. an approximately $4.9 million loan with the Bacon as collateral. In September 2018, the auction house contacted One and J. and said that the gallery had defaulted on the loan and asserted that Christie’s could sell the painting “under any terms, at any time, as we see fit,” according to the petition.
The gallery claims it then offered to purchase the Bacon painting back from the buyer that Christie’s placed it with, but the auction house deemed its offer of $6.8 million to be too low. One and J.’s legal filings do not specify what the painting sold for, but asserts that its bid “was significantly higher than the unknown buyer’s agreed-upon purchase price.” Two days after its filing against Christie’s, the Korean gallery filed a summons naming Van der Weghe and Rogath as the buyers of the Bacon painting, and claimed that Christie’s “had estimated that it could sell this same painting privately for more than $15 million.”