Gagosian Seeks Dismissal of Perelman’s ‘Popeye’ Lawsuit

Photographer: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Art dealer Larry Gagosian. Close

Art dealer Larry Gagosian.

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Photographer: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Art dealer Larry Gagosian.

Gallery owner Larry Gagosian asked a New York judge to dismiss billionaire Ron Perelman’s lawsuit accusing Gagosian of using his position in the art world to negotiate secret deals and manipulate art prices.

The lawsuit, filed in September in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, is based on transactions including one in which Perelman claims Gagosian forced him to buy “Popeye,” a granite sculpture of the cartoon character by Jeff Koons for $4 million.

Gagosian said in a court filing yesterday that the case should be dismissed as “meritless,” and that Perelman should be sanctioned by the court because the suit’s true aim is to harass Gagosian and harm his business.

In a $12.6 million art transaction, “Perelman proved to be a deadbeat -- and then a bully -- when it came time to pay,” according to yesterday’s filing.

Perelman accused Gagosian in his lawsuit of withholding important information about the sales to enrich himself.

“These allegations were false when he first made them, false when he withdrew the unsupported lawsuit, and are still false today,” said Christine Taylor, a spokeswoman for Perelman, in an e-mail. “His call for sanctions is itself sanctionable because it is frivolous and merely a smoke screen to deflect from the real issues in our lawsuit.”

The case is MAFG Art Fund LLC v. Gagosian, 653189/2012, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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