MARC JANCOU V. CADY NOLAND, SOTHEBY'SFeb. 16, 2012
How involved should artists be in the market for their works? Earlier this month, collector Dean Valentine paid $153,000 to settle a resale royalty claim from artist Mark Grotjahn, a case that brought to light the largely overlooked California law that requires collectors to pay a five-percent royalty to the artists of original artworks that they resell.
Now, dealer Marc Jancou has launched a suit against artist Cady Noland and Sotheby’s, alleging that the artist interfered in his sale of one of her works at the auction house, causing Sotheby’s to reject the consignment. As reported by Dan Duray in Gallerist NY, Jancou entered into the agreement with Sotheby’s to sell Noland’s 1990 aluminum print Cowboys Milking, but the day before it was scheduled to hit the block, the auction house pulled it without explanation.
It must have stung -- the previous day a work by Noland had sold at Sotheby’s for $6.6 million, soaring past its high $3 million estimate, and setting a new record for a work at auction by a living female artist. Even though Jancou’s work was only estimated at $250,000-$350,000, he is seeking $26 million in damages in his court filing.
Jancou claims in his complaint that “Noland tortiously interfered with the consignment agreement by persuading Sotheby’s to breach the agreement by refusing to put the work up for auction, despite there being no basis under the agreement to do so.” The Baer Faxt, which was first to report the lawsuit, has suggested that Noland stepped in because she had “disavowed” the work.
The defendants have the month to respond, but Sotheby’s has pointed out a seemingly air-tight clause in the firm’s consignment contract: “We reserve the right to withdraw any property before the sale and shall have no liability whatsoever for such withdrawal.”