International Art Dealer Defeats Breach of Contract and Fraud Claims


Our client was a fine art consultant who provided advisory services regarding the purchase and sale of renowned paintings, sculptures and other works of art. The consultant, through his solely owned entity, facilitated the sale of four well-known paintings owned by Edemar Ferreira, the former president and founder of Brazil’s Banco Santos, to a New York art dealer. Approximately two years following the sale, the paintings were subject to seizures and inquiries by Brazilian, British, U.S. and Swedish authorities investigating a global money laundering and smuggling scheme involving Ferreira. Shortly thereafter, the consultant’s company folded. In an attempt to recoup its losses, the purchaser pursued the consultant, personally, for approximately $1.5 million on claims that included breach of contract and fraud. However, the consultant no longer had a viable business and was essentially broke.


Sensitive to our client’s financial condition, we developed a low budget defense strategy that minimized all pre-trial costs.


We went to trial on a low budget and won by disputing the art dealer’s claims and corporate veil piercing theories and presenting evidence, including extensive financial records and accountant testimony, that demonstrated that the consultant did not commit fraud and was not the alter ego of his solely owned entity. Not ready to give up, the art dealer challenged several of the trial judge’s rulings on appeal. We wrote a short but punchy appellate brief explaining that there had been no error on the part of the lower court. The appellate court ruled in our favor on all issues and affirmed the decision of the court below.