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Dia Foundation Founders Withdraw Suit Challenging Auction

Sotheby's in New York. Photographer: Stephen Hilger/Bloomberg
Sotheby's in New York. Photographer: Stephen Hilger/Bloomberg

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The founders of New York’s Dia Art Foundation withdrew their suit against the organization and Sotheby’s to block an auction of artworks they had donated.

Heiner Friedrich and his ex-wife, Fariha Friedrich, who started the foundation with art historian Helen Winkler in 1974, sued the organization in state Supreme Court in Manhattan last week to stop sales scheduled for tomorrow and Nov. 14 at Sotheby’s. They said the works were donated with the intention of keeping them available to the public.

The Friedrichs withdrew their suit and their requests for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction stopping the works from being sold at auction, according to a court filing dated today.

“We continue to strongly oppose the proposed sale of some of the most important works in the Dia Art Foundation collection into commercial venues,” the Friedrichs said in a statement. “Such an action is utterly wrong, and is against Dia’s mission. Dia, however, is our precious child, and we do not wish to continue to oppose it through legal action.”

Former Factory

Dia supports artists with exhibition space and funds for long-term projects. The foundation in 2003 opened a 300,000-square-foot museum in a former factory in Beacon, New York, with works by artists of the 1960s and 1970s, including John Chamberlain, Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd.

The sales include works by Barnett Newman, Cy Twombly and Chamberlain that the plaintiffs said they donated or loaned to Dia in the 1970s and 1980s.

“We are pleased the suit has been withdrawn as it has always been our view that the allegations that had been made were meritless,” Lauren Gioia, a Sotheby’s spokeswoman, said by e-mail. “We look forward to successful sales on Wednesday and Thursday.”

The case is Friedrich v. Dia Art Foundation, 160379/2013, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan at

cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net

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

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