POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
Gregory Lindquist, Installation view
Reincarnated from the ashes of Bridge, the art fair that left no exhibitor without complaint, comes Verge, a new fair, already entangled in legal disputes. Exhibiting artist Gregory Lindquist said Verge art fair venue, The Dylan Hotel, claimed his work as collateral and refused to release it when Verge failed to pay the hotel an outstanding balance of $10,300.
According to the account published on Lindquist’s blog, problems began early. Lindquist claims he participated in the fair because the website touted figures such as curator Dan Cameron and collector Beth Rudin DeWoody as members of the selection committee. I contacted Cameron and Rudin DeWoody last week to confirm their association with the fair, and both were upset to learn their names were used without permission. Although each had some nominal contact with the fair neither were involved with New York’s selection.
“I had agreed back in October to help advise them for the Verge Fair in Miami, & had one meeting with them, but that was the end of it (or so I thought).” Cameron told me over email. “They never contacted me about the recent edition.” When I asked Verge fair founder Michael Workman about it, he claimed there was an old link that hadn’t been updated. As of this writing that page remains.
But it was when the fair closed that the troubles really began. Lindquist’s gallery NURTUREart had not been provided with any pick up details, and was unable to reach the fair’s artistic director Eduoard Steinhauer as his phone was apparently full up with messages. Three days after the fair ended and multiple communication attempts later, Lindquist took matters into his own hands and went to the hotel to retrieve the work. From the artist’s blog:
I spoke with Ferran Sanfelimon, the Dylan Hotel's managing director, who informed me that because Mr. Steinhauer owed the hotel a $10,300 balance, he was holding the remaining artworks, which were deemed per contract property of the art fair once the individual artists delivered their work. We argued for about 45 minutes, insisting that I needed the two sculptures and three paintings for the solo exhibition opening March 18 at Elizabeth Harris Gallery which would be installed the following Tuesday the 16 of March. Mr. Ferran politely stated that his lawyer advised him not to release the work, the only apparent leverage that the hotel had via the individual artists to pressuring Steinhauer/Verge Art Fair to coming forward and settling/negotiating his debts.
Enter the lawyers. According to Lindquist, NUTUREart’s Volunteer Lawyer for the Arts contacted The Dylan Hotel and their lawyer Taina Rodriguez of McDermott Will & Emery LLP to inform them that according to New York law, holding art hostage for debt is illegal. Lindquist got his work back on the 12th, but when I contacted The Dylan Hotel for a statement it was like the dispute never occurred. “It is the hotel’s policy to hold any and all information regarding our guests in the highest of confidence.” Rodriquez wrote, “The hotel has no comment, except to say that no art work is being held.” When I told both her and a Dylan Hotel employee that failing to answer the question of whether work had ever been held would tell its own story, I was informed that publishing defamatory statements about the hotel would result in suit. Charming.
It seems unlikely there was no dispute at all given the number of lawyers I’ve spoken to on both sides of the story — second-hand information says that a confidentiality clause was added when the dispute between Verge and The Dylan Hotel was resolved — but then not everyone agrees on the facts. Michael Workman for example, doesn’t think there’s a problem at all. “There's no dispute between us and the Dylan hotel,” he told me over email. “There is no art being held, and Greg was late picking up his work.”