Art Law: All Claims Dismissed Against CL&M Client Robert Indiana in Lawsuit by Art Dealer Joao Tovar

Litigation partner Gary D. Sesser, Art Law Practice Group chair Ronald D. Spencer, and counsel Judith Wallace obtained dismissal of all claims against the renowned artist Robert Indiana (creator of the iconic LOVE sculpture, among other important works) that had been asserted by Monaco art dealer Joao Tovar in a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, in an 18-page decision by Judge Katherine B. Forrest. 
Tovar asserted claims relating to a sculpture entitled “English Prem.”  Judge Forrest had previously held, in a 2012 summary judgment decision in Indiana’s favor, that “English Prem” was created by John Gilbert but falsely marketed by Gilbert as a work by Indiana. In this lawsuit, Tovar, who purchased ten “English Prem” sculptures from Gilbert, sought to hold Indiana accountable. Judge Forrest held that “great artist” Indiana did not license and “had nothing whatsoever to do with” this “poor art,” and that Indiana did not make any misrepresentations to Tovar about this work or any other matter. The court also rejected Tovar’s claims arising out of a certificate of authenticity, holding that the certificate was executed by Gilbert and correctly stated that “English Prem” was a work created by Gilbert. Judge Forrest also noted that the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law does not create a cause of action against artists for claims concerning certificates of authenticity. Accordingly, Judge Forrest granted Indiana’s motion to dismiss Tovar’s claims for product disparagement, misrepresentation, breach of contract, as well as his claims under the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law.
Tovar v. Indiana was initially filed in Maine state court, and removed to the federal district court in Maine before being transferred to the Southern District of New York. Melissa Hewey and George Royle V of Drummond Woodsum assisted as local counsel in Maine.

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