Billionaire Ron Perelman is suing former partner and gallery owner Larry Gagosian, alleging that he attempted to overcharge him for a a Cy Twombly painting, “Leaving Paphos Ringed With Waves.”
Gagosian has many celebrity clients, such as Steve Martin and Jay Z, and quoted a price of $8 million for the painting, but then told Perelman it was sold to someone else. After a few months, the painting was available again, but this time, Gagosian said the price was $11.5 million. While Perelman negotiated a $10.5 million price, he still felt he was being overcharged.
Jose Mugrabi of Columbia was the first buyer, and has one of the world’s most impressive art collections. Perelman believes that Gagosian and Mugrabi were working together to manipulate the art market and to drive up the price. He has demanded a subpoena of information related to the purchase and sale of the Twombly painting, but Gagosian insists that his relationship with Mugrabi has no bearing on Perelman’s lawsuit and the subpoena is designed only to intimidate and harass him.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla said, “Gagosian has enormous power to influence and even set the markets for the artists he represents.”
Perelman wants the judge to uphold the subpoena, and the attorneys for Mugrabi and Gagosian have declined to comment.