Suit says foundation has immobilized sale of Calder sculpture (S.D.N.Y.)

March 7, 2014

Practitioner Insights thumbnail 2(Editor’s Note: This post is an excerpt from an article appearing in Practitioner Insights on WestlawNext)

A Swiss art dealer has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the Calder Foundation is blocking the sale of the mobile sculpture Eight Black Leaves by claiming it is a fragment of a larger work.

Cramer v. Calder Foundation et al., No. 14-cv-1375, complaint filed, 2014 WL 790727 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2014).

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Patrick Cramer says the foundation is restraining and monopolizing trade in the market for works by the midcentury master Alexander Calder.

Calder is best known for his kinetic mobile sculptures. The auction house Christie’s Inc. sold a Calder mobile in the spring of 2012 for $10.4 million, according to published reports.

In addition to the foundation, the suit names as defendants Alexander S.C. Rower, the foundation’s chairman and president, and the estate of Alexander Calder.

Cramer is an art dealer and the principal of a gallery in Geneva, according to the complaint.

Cramer’s father, Gérald Cramer, was also an art dealer, it says.

The plaintiff claims that Calder sold Eight Black Leaves directly to his father in 1948 and that the work was the subject of a 1950 catalog issued by his father’s gallery.

Calder never objected to the inclusion of the work in the catalog, and he and Cramer’s father remained lifelong friends, the complaint says.

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