MANHATTAN (CN) - The Degas Sculpture Project claims in court that an art dealer failed to pay for several pieces of art, including a Degas bronze sculpture and a Willem DeKooning painting.
The Degas Sculpture Project and Modernism Fine Arts sued Rose Ramey Long aka Rose Ramey Littlejohn and Rose Long Fine Art, in Federal Court.
The plaintiffs claim they agreed to sell the artworks to the Tennessee dealer.
Included in the sale was an "exceptionally rare and valuable limited edition" bronze of Edgar Degas' famed sculpture, La petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans
("The Little Dancer, Age Fourteen.")
Modernism Fine Arts also owned rare etchings by Pablo Picasso, including Sueño y Mentira de Franco
("Dreams and Lies of Franco") and En La Taberna: Pecheurs Catalans en Bordee
("In the Tavern: Group of Catalan Fisherman") dated 1937 and 1934, respectively.
Modernism Fine Arts also had 16 "extremely rare and valuable" original oil on paper paintings by deKooning, according to the lawsuit.
Earlier this year, Long vetted the pieces and indicated that she intended to resell them to a California collector, the plaintiffs say.
"To protect the integrity" of the pieces, the plaintiffs say, they restrict the private sale of their works to collectors who vow to donate them to reputable museums.
Long specifically stated that her "notable end client" planned to open a new museum in San Francisco.
The plaintiffs say they agreed to sell to Long the Degas, deKoonings and other works at a 10 percent discount for the deKoonings. The purchase amount is redacted in the lawsuit.
But Long paid only $110,000, the plaintiffs say, then resold the art to a customer other than the one she disclosed.
The plaintiffs claim this customer was a "recently released from custody, twice-convicted, federal felon with a history of fraudulent conduct and no source of current income or tangible assets."
Long then failed to pay the contract price or return the paintings, according to the complaint.
The crates of art were opened on June 5 - and one was missing, containing the Degas Little Dancer bronze sculpture, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs seek damages for breach of contract and negligence.
They are represented by Eric Buikema.