What’s a cardboard box worth? A quarter of a million dollars if it houses a rare set of Andy Warhol‘s Marilyn Monroe screenprints—at least according to one art dealer. Just such a cardboard box is at the center of a $250,000 lawsuit that’s pitting a Wyoming gallery against a venerable art shipping company.
When Sotheby’s New York listed a 1967 set of Andy Warhol prints of Marilyn Monroe, lot 346 in a 2012 prints auction, it asked $1.4–$1.8 million for the lot, which had been consigned by an anonymous European collector. A cardboard box housing the prints was specified in Sotheby’s listing as part of the set.
New York dealer David Benrimon paid $1.65 million for the Marilyns—number 26 in an edition of 250—then sold them to Wyoming gallery Heather James Fine Art, which in turn sold the prints to its client, listed in court papers as One Sweet Dream, in California. (Behind One Sweet Dream is winery owner and art collector Cliff Lede, listed by Canadian Business among Canada’s wealthiest. His lawyers, Santa Rosa, California’s Geary, Shea, O’Donnell, Grattan & Mitchell, declined to comment.)
When Benrimon got the prints, the box was there; when they arrived at Heather James’s client, it was not.
After multiple unsuccessful appeals to the seller, Heather James brought a lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court in April 2014 against Day & Meyer, Murray & Young, the highly regarded art moving, shipping, and storage company that was hired to transport the works. (A 2011 New York Times story described Day & Meyer as “the storage building of choice for many of New York’s wealthiest families, most prestigious art dealers and grandest museums.”) Read more