Weisz v. Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc.

77 Misc. 2d 80

 

RULE:

Purchasers of works of art at auction sales in 1962 and 1964, when the catalogues validly and clearly disclaimed any representation or warranty that the paintings were actually the products of the ascribed artists, have no cause of action against the auctioneer. Their complaints should be dismissed.

FACTS:

A buyer purchased two paintings at a public auction and sued the seller of those paintings when he discovered that they were not authentic works.

ISSUE:

Is a seller who misidentifies the authorship of a painting liable to the buyer of that painting, absent any law recognizing the expressed opinion of the seller as giving rise to any implied warranty of authenticity or authorship?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

At the time of both purchases, there was no law that recognized the expressed opinion or judgment of the seller as giving rise to any implied warranty of authenticity or authorship. Both paintings’ catalog listings contained clear disclaimers of any express or implied warranty or representation of genuineness of any paintings as products of the ascribed artist. One of the factors entering into the competition among bidders at the public auction was the variable value of the paintings depending upon the degree of certainty with which they could be authenticated. Because the seller did not intend to deceive the buyer, the buyer assumed the risk, and adjusted his bid accordingly, that the works he was bidding on may not be authentic.

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