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Gagosian Continues Fight to Nix Billionaire Collector’s Suit Over Delayed Sculptures From ‘Perfectionist’ Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons.

Jeff Koons.

EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

A legal battle that pits billionaire collector Steven A. Tananbaum against Gagosian gallery and Jeff Koons’s studio over their alleged failure to deliver three works by the artist continues to rage on.

Last week, Gagosian gallery told the New York State Supreme Court that it would appeal a decision reached late last month that allowed most aspects of the suit, which alleges breach of contract, to proceed.

The case centers on the purchase of three sculptures by Koons, which Tananbaum claims were not delivered to him according to an agreed-upon timetable. He brought the case against the gallery and Koons’s studio in 2018.

Tananbaum, who is on the ARTnews “Top 200 Collectors” list, has alleged that the three sculptures—for which he had, according to court filings, paid more than $13 million—were not delivered on time, and documents in the suit have show a years-long back-and-forth between him and Gagosian representatives. (The Koonses in question are Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels [Magenta], Eros, and Diana.)

Gagosian had previously filed for the case to be dismissed altogether. Judge Saliann Scarpulla dismissed some parts of the suit, including an allegation that the gallery had not acted in good faith in the transaction, but ruled that other claims by Tananbaum could go forward.

In its notice to appeal, Gagosian said that the delays in delivering the artwork to Tananbaum came because Koons is known to take long periods of time to fabricate his works, and added that, when he agreed to purchase the works, the collector was “well aware of Koons’ perfectionism.”

The filing also states that Tananbaum knew the prices for Koons’s work could rise during the fabrication process and that there will “likely” be an “opportunity to sell that work at a much higher price in the secondary market after it is completed.”

A lawyer for Gagosian did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Tananbaum declined to comment.

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