Mugrabi Family Wins Return of More Than 1,300 Works of Art

Updated on
  • Art collectors had sued saying works were being held ‘hostage’
  • Mana Contemporary ordered to turn over collection by Nov. 13

A prominent family of art collectors and dealers won a court order forcing a New Jersey storage facility to turn over more than 1,300 works that it was holding in a fee dispute.

David Mugrabi, the son of New York dealer Jose Mugrabi, sued Mana Contemporary last month, saying it was preventing the family from removing any art from its Jersey City facility since September. The family said the works were being held "hostage" and that the dispute was bringing its business to a standstill.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Manhattan ordered Mana to turn over all 1,389 works of art and about 80 other miscellaneous items by Nov. 13. The judge said the Mugrabis had shown that they could suffer "real, imminent and irreparable injury," are likely to succeed on some of their claims and have "raised serious questions" about whether a contract breach occurred.

The Mugrabi family is known as market movers, taking major positions on artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Damien Hirst. The value of the collection. which includes the largest private cache of pieces by Andy Warhol, has been estimated at more than $100 million, according to the lawsuit.

Mana is an urban arts organization founded by Israeli billionaire Moishe Mana. Its Mana Fine Arts division in Jersey City provides services to the art-collection industry, including storage, shipping and restoration.

Mana agreed in 2014 to store Mugrabi’s collection in exchange for the family’s recommendations of Mana’s services to their clients, according to a complaint filed Oct. 23 in New York state court.

A lawyer for Mana had said in a statement after the suit was filed that the firm has "no choice" but to enforce its lien against the artwork as the Mugrabi family’s company, Fashion Concepts Inc., has defaulted on payment "for an extended period of time" and owes more than $500,000, "despite several attempts to recover same."

Kelly Magee, an outside spokeswoman for Mana, didn’t have an immediate comment on Wednesday’s ruling.

The case is Mugrabi v. Mana Contemporary, 159407/2017, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan.)

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