Over a year after art collector Jan Cowles, 94, sued Gagosian Gallery for selling her Roy Lichtenstein painting without her permission, the two sides have reached a settlement. Randy Kennedy for The New York Times reports that while the details of the settlement remain confidential, the painting “Girl With a Mirror” will remain with Thompson Dean, who purchased the work from Gagosian.
The suit revealed a glimpse into the complicated and sometimes shady underpinnings of the high-end art market. Jan Cowles alleged that Gagosian didn’t have the right to sell off her painting—he talked to her son, not her—and then when Gagosian did end up selling the painting, it wasn’t according to the terms of agreement her son, Charles, laid out. Mr. Cowles wanted a $500,000 commission on a $3 million painting, but Gagosian sold the painting for $2 million and snatched up a $500,000 commission. All the while, the suit brought to light emails between the gallery and Thompson Dean which reveal a now infamous bargain basement sales pitch:
“Seller now in terrible straits and needs cash…Are you interested in making a cruel and offensive offer? Come on, want to try?”
That’s all sorts of shady. In response to the lawsuit, the gallery has “called the lawsuit baseless and said its ‘practices are fully consistent with both the law and the standards in the art world.’”
That is to say, Gagosian’s staff will continue making cruel and offensive offers.