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Chrismas Files for Bankruptcy
by Irit Krygier
 
     
  Douglas Chrismas Fine Arts, Inc., the formal business name for the Los Angeles branch of Ace Gallery, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in United States Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California (Los Angeles) on Nov. 10, 1999 (Case #99-51107-LF). The court case is the seventh Chapter 11 filing by Douglas Chrismas either as a business (under the names Doug Chrismas Fine Arts, Inc. Douglas Chrismas Fine Arts, Inc. and Flow Ace Gallery, Inc) or as an individual in the same jurisdiction since 1984.

One of the art world's most flamboyant showmen, Chrismas is celebrated for immense gallery spaces and spare installations. Ace Gallery Los Angeles is currently showing early work by Richard Serra and also exhibits art by China Adams, Charles Fine, Peter Halley, Tim Hawkinson and Jannis Kounellis. Ace has branches in New York and Mexico City in addition to the Los Angeles space at 5514 Wilshire Boulevard. In the current bankruptcy filing, the landlord of the Wilshire Boulevard space, Wilshire Dunsmuir Company, claims that Douglas Chrismas Fine Arts currently owes $146,907.99 in back rent and penalties. The claim is being disputed by Douglas Chrismas Fine Art. In court papers, Chrismas Fine Art claims that it will cure "the pre-petition" debt by Feb. 1, 2000, and is asking the court to protect its right to remain in the property. A declaration filed by Douglas Chrismas characterizes this leasehold as the business' primary asset.

In addition to problems with the landlord, Douglas Chrismas Fine Art is in dispute with the State Board of Equalization -- the California sales tax authority. According to papers filed in this bankruptcy, the state board contends Chrismas owes back sales tax and penalties totaling $707,045.54. The Internal Revenue Service is also involved in the bankruptcy, and is claiming back taxes of $50,251.39.

No artists, galleries or other art-related businesses are listed as creditors in this case, which is currently pending.


IRIT KRYGIER is a writer based in Los Angeles. She can be reached via email at irit@gte.net.