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Nahmad vs. Phillips – More Legal Matters

July 29, 2020

Tales from the dark sideThe Nahmad family is back in the news, this time, with the youngest of the art dealing clan, Joseph Nahmad. According to a complaint filed on June 9th in New York, Joseph Nahmad is suing Phillips auction house after a “guaranteed” deal involving a Rudolf Stingel and Jean Michel Basquiat went south. Nahmad claims that he placed an irrevocable bid for £3 million on the Basquiat and, in return, would receive a guarantee of $5 million on his Rudolf Stingel, which was to be offered in their upcoming May auction.

When the world took a turn for the worst, and the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the market, Phillips removed the guarantee from the Stingel; however, Nahmad stayed true to his previous irrevocable bid (though he did not end up buying the work which sold for £3.8M) . Nahmad is seeking at least $7 million for the reneged deal; claiming that the auction house is using the pandemic as a cover for their true reason of the breach — the fact that Stingel’s market crashed after a bunch of speculative deals — one of which included disgraced art dealer Inigo Philbrick: read more about Philbrick here and here.

Phillips has not commented on the suit, but in WhatsApp messages between Phillip’s CEO, Leonid Friedland, and Nahmad, he stated that the guarantee could be canceled, in the case of “natural disaster, fire, flood, general strike, war, terrorist attack… or chemical contamination…” and offered to include the work in their July Sale with a “stripped down” agreement that eliminated the guarantee.

One more little interesting tidbit … it appears that Leonid Friedland was the owner/seller of the Basquiat.

Source: An Art-Dealing Dynasty Heir Sues Phillips Auction House for Reneging on a Deal After the Artist’s Market Took a Tumble