Friday, October 28, 2011

In Richard Prince Copyright Case, Who Bought the Infringing Paintings and How Much Did They Pay? EXCLUSIVE

Richard Prince, "Specially Round Midnight," purchased by Steven A. Cohen for $2.43 million
In this reporter’s ongoing investigation into Cariou v. Prince -- the court case that found appropriation artist Richard Prince, Larry Gagosian, and the Gagosian Gallery had all infringed photographer Patrick Cariou’s copyright – names and dollar amounts are becoming available.   

The U.S. District Court – whose decision is being appealed, of course – has enjoined the buyers from displaying the works in public, and that order stands.

Copyright experts and even Prince’s own attorney think that injunction makes it all but impossible for these collectors to sell the paintings.  Their current value is thus pretty close to zero.

According to documents filed in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on October 26, leading the list of purchasers of what the court termed “unlawful” paintings is none other than Steven A. Cohen, one of the biggest collectors of contemporary art and head of controversial hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors.

Steven A. Cohen
SAC, which has for years been publicly remored to have engaged in unlawful activity of its own, has provided investors with remarkably consistent and high above-market returns, even in down markets.  The Feds suspect hanky-panky, and recent news reports in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere indicate that an investigation is ongoing.

For Prince’s work, Cohen apparently paid the most of any buyer, purchasing “Specially Round Midnight” for $2.43 million.  Easy come, easy go?

Other buyers include Michael and Lise Evans, who bought “Mr. Jones” for $2 million, art dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, collector Adam Lindemann, and shipping magnate Philip Niarchos.

What follows is a list of works declared unlawful and sold through February 2009 and the prices paid:

“Specially Round Midnight,” $2.43 million

“Mr. Jones,” $2 million

“Escape Goat,” $2 million

“Canal Zone,” $1.2 million

“The Other Side of the Island,” $1.2 million

“Naked Confessions,” $450,000

“Untitled (Rasta)," $400,000

One buyer, whom I have not yet been able to identify, wanted to buy three paintings – “Back to the Garden,” “Cookie Crumbles,” and an untitled work.  But he had cash flow problems, so he traded a Richard Serra sculpture for them.  Gagosian Gallery, which is Prince’s dealer, got the sculpture, the buyer got the paintings, and Prince got money.

In addition, Prince traded four of his “Canal Zone” paintings for a work owned by Gagosian, “Dying and Dead Veteran” by Larry Rivers, estimated to be worth between $3 million and $4 million.

Stay tuned, as I’ll be breaking a lot more news over the next week.

Two images from Patrick Cariou's "Yes, Rasta" that Prince used in creating "Specially Round Midnight" (top)
Image of Cohen pulled from the internet.  "Yes, Rasta" images Copyright Patrick Cariou.
Text Copyright 2011 Laura Gilbert