One could be forgiven for failing to understand how the sale of a painting bought in 1983 for $15,000 and resold last month for $30.7 million, could ever be deemed “disappointing”. After all, the price increase represents more than 2,000 times the original purchase price.
But add in the consignor’s high hopes for a nine-figure price tag—or upwards of $100 million—and a heavy dose of family dysfunction, and you’ll start to understand the forces behind a $100 million retaliatory lawsuit now at play in the New York State Supreme Court.
Belinda Neumann Donnelly filed a lawsuit against her father Hubert G. Neumann, yesterday, alleging that Hubert engaged in a “greedy, malevolent, fraudulent, bad-faith and (unfortunately) successful scheme to financially devastate [her mother’s estate, of which she is the agent] and, indirectly, Belinda, by destroying the value of the Estate’s most valuable asset,” Basquiat’s large painting Flesh and Spirit (1983).
Neumann Donnelly alleges that the relatively lackluster bidding was a result of her father Hubert’s actions, namely that two weeks prior to the sale he filed a “frivolous complaint” against Sotheby’s, including a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to halt the sale. Read more