Art

New York Museums Accused in Suit of Conspiring Against Artists

A painter known for thumbing his nose at the art establishment sued five New York City museums, accusing them of conspiring to eliminate competition for contemporary art and increasing prices for some works while suppressing those of others.

Robert Cenedella said private collectors, galleries and auction houses play a large role in determining which works end up in museum collections, creating a system that drives up prices for a small group of select artists while shutting out others who "do not carry the imprimatur or financial cache of the contemporary artists within the closed system."

"The system today -- put in place by galleries, auction houses, and art critiques -- has nothing to do with talent, development of skill, or maturation of the art world," said Cenedella, a teacher at the Art Students League of New York known for satirical works that have included a painting of Santa Claus on a crucifix.

Cenedella sued the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, calling the group a "corporate museum cartel" that manipulates the market for its own benefit. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

The museums didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Cenedella v Metropolitan Museum of Art, 18-cv-01029, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

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