BofA Wants CNET Founder's Art

3/23/2010 8:13:00 AM, Barbara Leonard
     MANHATTAN (CN) - A finance company owned by Bank of America demands that Christie's auction house and the Paul Kasmin Gallery turn over more than 100 artworks that belonged to CNET founder Halsey Minor - or the money from selling them. ML Private Finance says it holds a $21.6 million judgment against Minor and the Halsey McLean Minor Revocable Trust.

     Merrill Lynch sued Minor in 2008 in Manhattan Federal Court, claiming he had sold paintings that were collateral for a $21.6 million loan. Minor appealed and lost, then filed a counterclaim that was tossed out, according to contemporary media reports.
     The plaintiff in the recent federal action, ML Private Finance, is a Delaware company whose sole member is Bank of America. BofA bought Merrill Lynch in late 2008 as the world financial system melted down.
     ML claims Kasmin has in its possession a Walton Ford painting belonging to Minor titled "Loss of the Lisbon Rhinoceros," and that Christie's has about 115 artworks and pieces of furniture owned by Minor.
     The auction house and gallery cannot transfer Minor's property without a court order, according to the petition.
     ML Private Finance seeks an order directing the respondents to turn over the artworks to an appointed receiver or to a U.S. Marshal for liquidation.
     It is represented by James Perkins with Greenberg Traurig.
     The 146-page filing (including attachments) contains a welter of back history of this and other complaints.
     Minor, 46, founded CNET in 1993. It was one of the first Internet companies to turn a profit.