A New York judge has ruled that a gallery worker cannot recover money she paid to a dealer for a Julian Schnabel painting even though the stated value of the piece may have been inflated, writing that the potential buyer should have more carefully investigated the work.
Najung Seung, a North Korea resident, says that she first paid $118,000 to New York dealer Mary Dinaburg in May 2006 to buy a John Wesley painting called Bulls and Bed. Seung says that Dinaburg later told her she had sold the work to someone else, but offered her a $200,000 credit to buy a Schnabel painting called Chinkzee — which she said was worth at least $500,000 — for only $380,000.
Seung advanced $90,000 on the Schnabel work, but then learned that the work had sold at auction in May 2007 for the more modest sum of $156,000 and wanted to halt the purchase. Seung says that, when she asked Dinaburg for her money back, the dealer refused, and Seung filed suit for $290,000 (the value of her 'credit' on the painting plus the advance she had paid), alleging fraud.
In throwing out the suit, New York Supreme Court judge Eileen Bransten noted that Seung had failed to appraise the work before buying it and should not have relied solely on the seller to determine the work’s value, particularly since the price of the work was available in auction records.