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Case 1:16-cv-01386-WHP Document 1 Filed 02/23/16 Page 1 of 8

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
----------------------------------------------------------X
SANDRAN WARAN,
Plaintiff,

CASE NO.:
COMPLAINT

- against CHRISTIES INC.,


Defendant.
----------------------------------------------------------X

Plaintiff, Sandran Waran, by his attorneys, Oved & Oved LLP, complaining of the
Defendant Christies Inc.s (Defendant or Christies), alleges, upon information and belief,
as follows:
SUMMARY OF ACTION
1.

This lawsuit seeks monetary damages stemming from the fraud that Christies

perpetrated on Plaintiff when Christies guaranteed the authenticity and provenance of certain
pieces of East Indian art, and thereby induced Plaintiff to purchase same in 2005 and 2007, and
then subsequently refused to resell same for Plaintiff claiming that the authenticity and
provenance of those same pieces could not be guaranteed by Christies.1
PARTIES
2.

Plaintiff is a New Jersey resident with an address at 8 Reed Road, Morristown,

New Jersey 07960.


3.

Defendant is a corporation duly organized and existing under and pursuant to the

laws of the State of New York with a principal place of business at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New
York, New York 10020.
1

Given the pervasive nature of Christies fraudulent conduct and the likely existence of other similarly situated
individuals, Plaintiff reserves his right to amend this Complaint to include other similarly situated Plaintiffs and
certify a class.

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4.

At all times relevant hereto, Christies operated one of the worlds largest and

best-known auction houses.


5.

At all times relevant hereto, Christies conducted business through its duly

authorized agents, representatives, officers, directors, shareholders, managers, employees,


servants and workmen, all of whom acted within the scope of their employment, agency and/or
authority.
JURISDICTION & VENUE
6.

This Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.

1332 because Plaintiff and Defendant are citizens of different states and the amount in
controversy exceeds the statutory threshold of Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($75,000.00),
exclusive of interest and costs.
7.

Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1391(b) and (c), because

Defendant has been and continues to provide services to customers residing in the district.
8.

The cause of action set forth in this Complaint arises from Defendants

transaction of business in this District, including but not limited to advertising, promotion,
marketing, auctioning and sale of goods to residents of this District.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND
A.

Plaintiff Acquires the Blackstone Stele From Christie's


9.

In or about March 2005, Christies published an auction catalog entitled Indian

and Southeast Asian Art, Including Modern and Contemporary Indian Art (the March 2005
Catalog).
10.

Pursuant to the Conditions of Sale contained in the March 2005 Catalog,

Christies warranted, without qualification, the authorship, authenticity and provenance of all
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works contained in the March 2005 Catalog of any art described in headings printed in UPPER
CASE TYPE.
11.

In or about March 2005, Plaintiff obtained a copy of the March 2005 Catalog.

12.

Included in the March 2005 Catalog was a piece (the Blackstone Stele) that

bore the following UPPER CASE TYPE heading:


PROPERTY OF A BOSTON COLLECTION
[Lot] 57
A BLACKSTONE STELE OF VISHNU ON GARUDA
NORTHEASTERN INDIA, PALA PERIOD, 12TH CENTURY
*

PROVENANCE:
Acquired in 1993

13.

Thus, pursuant to Christies March 2005 Catalog and its Conditions of Sale,

Christies represented that the Blackstone Stele was, without qualification, an authentic piece
from Northeastern India, from the Pala Period, 12th Century, and that its provenance was that it
was acquired by a Boston Collection in 1993.
14.

Plaintiff reasonably relied upon Christies unqualified representations regarding

the Blackstone Steles authenticity and provenance as well as Christies renowned reputation for
quality, authenticity and provenance, and placed the winning bid on the Blackstone Stele: Forty
Thousand Seven Hundred Four Dollars ($40,704.00) (including sales tax).
15.

Plaintiff promptly thereafter paid the sum of Thirty-Eight Thousand Forty

Thousand Seven Hundred Four Dollars ($40,704.00) to Christies and took possession of the
Blackstone Stele, which Plaintiff has owned without interruption to this day.
16.

But for Christies representations regarding authenticity and provenance,

Plaintiff would not have purchased the Blackstone Stele.

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B.

Plaintiff Acquired the Sandstone Figure From Christies


17.

In or about March 2007, Christies published another auction catalog entitled

Indian and Southeast Asian Art, Including Modern and Contemporary Indian Art (the March
2007 Catalog).
18.

Pursuant to the Conditions of Sale contained in the March 2007 Catalog,

Christies warranted, without qualification, the authorship, authenticity and provenance of all
works contained in the March 2007 Catalog of any art described in headings printed in UPPER
CASE TYPE.
19.

The March 2007 Catalog also explained that when the dates, period or style of a

piece (its attributes) are contained below the heading of the description in small capital
letters then Christies is of the opinion [that] the piece is of the date or period [listed].
20.

In or about March 2007, Plaintiff obtained a copy of the March 2007 Catalog.

21.

Included in the March 2007 Catalog was a piece (the Sandstone Figure) that

bore the following UPPER CASE TYPE heading and the following attributes in small capital
letters:
PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE ENGLISH COLLECTION
[Lot] 270
A SANDSTONE FIGURE OF UMA
KHMER, ANGKOR PERIOD, BAPHUON STYLE, 11TH CENTURY
*

PROVENANCE:
English Collection, before 1975

22.

Thus, pursuant to Christies March 2007 Catalog and its Conditions of Sale,

Christies represented that the Sandstone Figure was, without qualification, an authentic piece
from Khmer, from the Angkor Period, in the Baphuon Style, 11th Century and that its

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provenance was that it was acquired by a private English collection before 1975.
23.

Plaintiff reasonably relied upon Christies unqualified representations regarding

the Sandstone Figures authenticity and provenance as well as Christies renowned reputation for
quality, authenticity and provenance, and placed the winning bid on the Sandstone Figure:
Seventy Thousand and Six Hundred-Twenty Dollars ($70,620.00) (including sales tax).
24.

Plaintiff promptly thereafter paid the sum of Seventy Thousand and Six Hundred-

Twenty Dollars ($70,620.00) to Christies and took possession of the Sandstone Figure which
Plaintiff has possessed without interruption to this day (collectively, the Blackstone Stele and the
Sandstone Figure are referred to herein as the Pieces).
25.

But for Christies representations regarding authenticity and provenance,

Plaintiff would not have purchased the Sandstone Figure.


C.

Plaintiff Contacts Christies to Re-Sell the Pieces


26.

In or around July 2013, Plaintiff contacted Christies requesting to resell the

Pieces to Christies.
27.

Christies promptly responded to Plaintiff and represented that it wanted to offer

Plaintiffs artwork at its March 2014 auction.


28.

In furtherance thereof, Plaintiff delivered the pieces to Christies.

29.

From that time to February 24, 2014, in response to Plaintiffs repeated and

consistent inquiries as to when the Pieces would be included in one of Christies auctions,
Christies repeatedly reassured Plaintiff that Christies intended to include the pieces in its
upcoming auction but that it was gathering necessary information regarding same and requested
Plaintiffs patience.
30.

However, after years of inducing Plaintiff to keep the Pieces in Christies

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possession and forestalling the instant litigation, on or about February 24, 2014, Christies
advised Plaintiff that it would be unable to include the Pieces in its upcoming auction because it
could not yet verify their provenancethe same provenance Christies had represented, without
qualification, was verified as authentic and guaranteed in the March 2005 Catalog and March
2007 Catalog, respectively.
31.

To further attempt to forestall this litigationand surreptitiously run Plaintiffs

statute of limitations, Christies represented that it stand[s] behind the works it sells [,] that the
Christies name is synonymous with quality, authenticity and provenance and repeatedly
assured Plaintiff that Christies was planning to re-offer the Pieces at later auctions.
32.

Indeed, in or about July 2014, Christies informed Plaintiff that we are planning

to offer the [the Pieces] in September, [we] just need to finalize on Monday. Plaintiff again
relied on Christies representations.
33.

Christies continued to induce Plaintiff to forestall this and permit the pieces to

remain in Christies possession by repeatedly representing that Christies was still conducting
research regarding the Pieces and that they would be included in upcoming actions.
34.

Finally, on June 4, 2015, Christies informed Plaintiff that it would not be able to

reoffer the Pieces because it could not verify their provenancethe same provenance Christies
had represented, without qualification, was verified as authentic and guaranteed in the March
2005 Catalog and March 2007 Catalog, respectively.
35.

Since that time, Plaintiff has repeatedly contacted Christies but Christies has

refused to answer his calls or respond to his correspondence.

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AS AND FOR A FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION


(Fraud)
36.

Plaintiff repeats, reiterates, and re-alleges each and every allegation as contained

in the above paragraphs with the same force and effect as if fully set forth herein.
37.

In the March 2005 Catalog, Christies represented that the Blackstone Stele was,

without qualification, an authentic piece from Northeastern India, from the Pala Period, 12th
Century and that its provenance was that it was acquired by a Boston Collection in 1993.
38.

In the March 2007 Catalog, Christies represented that the Sandstone Figure was,

without qualification, an authentic piece from Khmer, from the Angkor Period, in the Baphuon
Style, 11th Century and that its provenance was that it was acquired by a private English
collection before 1975.
39.

Plaintiff reasonably relied upon these representations when Plaintiff purchased the

40.

But for Christies representations regarding authenticity and provenance,

Pieces.

Plaintiff would not have purchased the Pieces.


41.

However, it has recently been discovered from Christies itself that Christies

representations were false when made and/or made with recklessness as to their truth or falsity
and intended to induce Plaintiff (and indeed the public) to purchase the Pieces.
42.

The conduct, acts and/or omissions of Christies, as set forth above, constitute

43.

Plaintiff has suffered damages as a result of the misrepresentation and fraud of

fraud.

Christies including, but not limited, to economic damages.


44.

By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff was damaged and is entitled to a monetary

judgment against Christies in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than One Hundred
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