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Commercial/Transactional Engagements:


Mr. Stern has counseled clients with respect to diverse matters, including:

  • Sales and purchases of art, consignment arrangements, including auction and private treaty agreements, loans of artwork.  These have involved transactions in excess of $1 billion.

  • Artist/dealer relations and contracts.

  • Catalogue Raisonné activities.

  • Organization of corporations, LLCs, partnerships and other entities.

  • Purchase and sale of art businesses.

  • Estate planning and administration.

  • Not-profit organization activities.


Litigation Engagements:


Mr. Stern has handled a large number of art-related litigation matters, many of which do not become public. As well as being highly successful in public litigations, Mr. Stern has also been successful in resolving many matters privately and without the need of litigation in public.  In particular, Mr. Stern has handled many cases relating to:

  • Authenticity of art objects.  Disputes relating to such artists as Archipenko,  Benton, Cassatt, De Kooning, Diebenkorn, Gauguin, Hine, Kensett, LaFarge, Leger, Modigliani, Picabia, Reynolds, Riopelle, Schwitters, Warhol. 

  • Title to property, including cases involving claims to artwork asserted by the Republic of France (Tissot painting) and the Philippines (Marcos property) and cases relating to the ownership of stolen property, including property misappropriated during World War II.

  • Artist-dealer disputes (nearly all confidential). 

  • Seller-purchaser disputes, such as breaches of contract with respect to the purchase/sale of artwork, enforcement of payment obligations, misrepresentation and fraud claims.

  • Disputes relating to the loss or destruction/damage of artworks, including the representation of insurance companies, as well as claimants.


Selected Important Cases (client underscored):


  • Chowaiki v. Steinhardt, Kantor and Christie’s Inc. (claim for sales commission; summary judgment in favor of defendant client and award of sanctions against plaintiff and counsel)

  • Foxley v. Sotheby’s (authenticity of Cassatt) (settlement)

  • Haring v. Playboy (copyright claim) (settlement)

  • Hughes v. Somers (copyright claim) (settlement)

  • Claims on behalf of photography dealers and collector clients relating to photographs falsely attributed by Walter Rosenblum to Lewis Hine (settlements)

  • Johnson v. The Smithsonian and Michael Rosenfeld Gallery (claim of title to works; dismissal of complaint against defendant client – award of sanctions against plaintiff)

  • Lehmann v. The Project (right of first refusal; $1.7 million judgment after trial on behalf of plaintiff client)

  • Malanga v. Chamberlain (replevin action)

  • McNally v. Yarnall (claim of defamation of art work attributed to La Farge; dismissal of complaint on behalf of defendant client)

  • Ogunsanya v. Langmuir (claim to ownership of collection of photographs by Diane Arbus; settlement)

  • Shaltiel v. Wildenstein (slander of title with respect to the authenticity of Modigliani painting)

  • Travis v. Sotheby’s (claim of defamation of painting attributed to Reynolds; judgment after trial in favor of defendant client)

  • US Antitrust investigation of certain art galleries/auction houses

  • Van Damme v. Gelber (enforcement of contract against reneging seller)

  • Visual Equities, Inc. v. Sotheby’s (attempt to restrain sale of copy of Declaration of Independence) (settlement)

  • Robert Weil v. Mark Murray and Ian Peck (enforcement of contract to purchase Degas painting; $1.4 million judgment on behalf of plaintiff client against defendant Murray)

  • Wertheimer v. Cirker’s and Marvin Inc. (claim of title to Pissarro painting) (judgment in favor of defendant client)

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