Published On: Sat, Mar 5th, 2016

Christie’s, Mugrabi Settle Lawsuit Over $37 Million Painting

The painting, by Jean-Michel Basquiat, shows a skeleton walking a cow; In a surprisingly public move, Christie’s sued Jose Mugrabi and his family in an effort to recoup $32 million unpaid on a Basquiat work—though the case was quickly settled.

Jean-Michel Basquiat,   The Field Next to the Other Road (1981). Photo courtesy of Christie's.




Christie’s released the following joint statement this afternoon: “Christie’s, Jombihis Corporation and the Mugrabi family are very pleased to have reached an agreement in principle to resolve the litigation. We all look forward to continuing our long and fruitful relationship together.”

The dispute dated back to May of 2015, when the Jombihi Corporation (owned by the Mugrabi family) and Mugrabi himself purchased the Basquiat at auction for a price in excess of $37 million.

According to a motion filed by Christie’s, the Mugrabis fulfilled their first payment of $5 million but haven’t paid off the remaining balance of $32 million.




The Baer Faxt newsletter wonders if the lawsuit signals an end (or at least a decrease) in the often flexible payment schedules afforded by auction houses in the past.

In an exclusive statement to Baer, Mugrabi expressed surprise over the lawsuit, while stressing that both sides were attempting to come to an agreement. Indeed, by Friday evening, the parties had settled the dispute, stating that “we all look forward to continuing our long and fruitful relationship together.”  (via Art Market Monitor and Baer Faxt).

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