Judge rules contested sale of Basquiat work can proceed


Sotheby’s headquarters at York Avenue and 71st Street in Manhattan. Photo by Jim Henderson.

NEW YORK (AP) – A New York judge has ruled that the auction of a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece titled Flesh and Spirit can go forward. A prominent art collector had filed a lawsuit against the auction house Sotheby’s to block his daughter from selling the Basquiat work valued at an estimated $30 million.

The lawsuit had been filed in Manhattan last week in the state supreme court by 86-year-old Hubert Neumann. He sought to prevent his daughter Belinda from selling the painting, which is entered in Sotheby’s May 16 auction.

“I am at a loss to understand how [Neumann] can exercis authority over a piece of work that he and interest that he represents have no entitlement to,” Justice O. Peter Sherwood stated in his ruling. He added in his decision that Neumann “is a stranger to this piece of art.”

Neumann’s wife, Dolores Ormandy Neumann, signed a will before her death in 2016 leaving most of her estate to Belinda Neumann and disinheriting her husband.

Hubert Neumann, who is disputing the will, charged in his lawsuit that the Basquiat sale would violate an agreement with the auction house that gave him a say in how artworks from his family’s collection are marketed.

Sotheby’s commented that the lawsuit was “entirely without merit.”


Auction Central News contributed to this report.

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