New York Judge Sides with Artist in Lawsuit Brought by Former Gallerist Over Bronze Sculpture and ‘Unpaid Sum’

New York’s Marianne Boesky Gallery lost a lawsuit against one of its former artists, the sculptor Diana Al-Hadid, whom it accused of owing a “significant six-figure sum.”

The lawsuit was brought by Art Works, Inc., an entity that owns Marianne Boesky Gallery, in the Supreme Court of New York. It centered around a bronze sculpture that went unnamed in the lawsuit and a debate over who owned that work.

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Marianne Boesky Gallery represented Al-Hadid until 2019, according to the suit, which said their arrangement was exclusive. Al-Hadid, whose work is owned by institutions such as the Whitney Museum and the Speed Art Museum, has since joined Kasmin gallery in New York and Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. She is known for her paintings and sculptures that explore states of transformation.

According to Marianne Boesky Gallery, when Al-Hadid left the gallery’s roster in 2019, she owned the enterprise a “significant six-figure sum.” The gallery and her allegedly entered into a settlement agreement, but a dispute arose when they could not agree on the ownership of the sculpture in question. The gallery claimed it had an interest in the work because it had advanced money for its fabrication.

In his decision on Tuesday, Justice Louis L. Nock said that the gallery’s dispute over the ownership was based partly in a contract whose language he called “unambiguous.”

The contract “does not confer or transfer an ownership interest in the sculptures to” Marianne Boesky Gallery, he wrote.

In a statement to ARTnews, Paul Cossu, a lawyer representing Marianne Boesky Gallery, said, “To allow Ms. Al-Hadid to retain the entirety of the eventual sale proceeds without paying the gallery its share would be unjust, both legally and morally, punishes the gallery for being supportive of the artist when the artist could not afford to fabricate the sculpture, and does not reflect the agreement that was reached with the artist. The gallery is appealing the decision.”

A representative for Al-Hadid did not immediately respond to request for comment.


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