Sie sind auf Seite 1von 7

19STCV36550

Assigned for all purposes to: Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Judicial Officer: Yolanda Orozco

Electronically FILED by Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles on 10/15/2019 09:41 AM Sherri R. Carter, Executive Officer/Clerk of Court, by M. Barel,Deputy Clerk

1 BERTRAM FIELDS (SBN 024199)


BFields@ggfirm.com
2 GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS
CLAMAN & MACHTINGER LLP
3 1900 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 2100
Los Angeles, California 90067-4590
4 Telephone: 310.553.3610
Fax: 310.553.0687
5
Attorneys for Plaintiff
6 Ron Meyer
7
8 SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
9 COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES
10
GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS CLAMAN

11 RON MEYER, Case No. _______________


Los Angeles, California 90067-4590
1900 Avenue of the Stars, 21st Floor

12 Plaintiff, COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR


& MACHTINGER LLP

FRAUD AND BREACH OF WARRANTY


13 v. AND, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR
RESCISSION
14 SUSAN SEIDEL, SUSAN SEIDEL
INC., JAMIE FRANKFORT, and (Jury Trial Demanded)
15 DOES 1 through 5,
16 Defendants.
17
18
19 Plaintiff alleges as follows:
20
21 FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
22 (Fraud – Against Defendants Seidel, Susan Seidel Inc.,
23 Frankfort and Does 1 through 5)
24 1. Plaintiff is and, at all relevant times, has been a resident of Los Angeles
25 County, California. After serving in the U.S. Marines, plaintiff co-founded and was Co-
26 President of Creative Artists Agency, a major talent agency headquartered in California.
27 For over 20 years since then plaintiff has been a Vice President of Universal Studios in
28 Burbank, California.
56901-00006/3130208.1

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR FRAUD AND BREACH OF WARRANTY, ALT. RESCISSION
1 2. At all relevant times, defendant Susan Seidel was a resident of New York
2 who has transacted substantial business in or related to California, including the business
3 that is the subject of this action. At all relevant times, Susan Seidel wholly owned,
4 controlled and dominated Susan Seidel Inc., an instrumentality through which Susan
5 Seidel sometimes conducted her business in New York, California and elsewhere, but
6 which has never had any real identity separate from Susan Seidel herself and has, at all
7 relevant times, been simply her alter ego. Both Susan Seidel and Susan Seidel Inc. are
8 hereinafter called “Seidel.” Defendant Jamie Frankfort (“Frankfort”) was and is a resident
9 of California. At all relevant times, Seidel and Frankfort were dealers in paintings and
10 other fine art who held themselves out as having expert and specialized knowledge and
GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS CLAMAN

11 experience with respect to the evaluation and authenticity of works of art, including but
Los Angeles, California 90067-4590
1900 Avenue of the Stars, 21st Floor

12 not limited to the works of art they offered for sale. In addition, by virtue of her
& MACHTINGER LLP

13 occupation itself, Seidel held herself out as having special knowledge with respect to the
14 art she offered for sale.
15 3. The true names and capacities of defendants named herein as Does 1
16 through 5 are unknown to plaintiff who therefore sues those defendants by such fictitious
17 names. Each such defendant played a role in the events or transactions described
18 hereinbelow. Plaintiff will ask leave of this court to amend this complaint to show their
19 true names and capacities when ascertained.
20 4. On or about March 1, 2001, Frankfort recommended Seidel to plaintiff,
21 representing to plaintiff that Seidel was a reliable and expert art dealer who had for sale a
22 painting by Mark Rothko, a famous and highly successful artist. Seidel did, in fact, have
23 possession of the painting to which Frankfort referred (the “Painting”). Plaintiff is
24 informed and believed and, on that ground, alleges that the Painting was owned by
25 another art dealer who had consigned it to Seidel for sale.
26 5. By reason of the professional expertise and experience of Seidel and
27 Frankfort in the world of art, and plaintiff’s comparative lack of experience and skill in
28 that arcane world, Seidel and Frankfort held positions of trust and confidence in their
56901-00006/3130208.1 2
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR FRAUD AND BREACH OF WARRANTY, ALT. RESCISSION
1 dealings with plaintiff. With Frankfort’s knowledge, Seidel offered to sell the Painting to
2 plaintiff. As Frankfort and Seidel were well aware, plaintiff had no ability to distinguish
3 an authentic work by Rothko from a “forgery.”
4 6. To induce plaintiff to purchase the Painting, and with the knowledge and
5 approval of Frankfort, Seidel made the following false and material misrepresentations to
6 plaintiff:
7 a. That the Painting was the work of Mark Rothko. In fact, as Seidel
8 knew, or certainly should have known, no part of the Painting was the work of Rothko. It
9 was, in fact, a complete “forgery.”
10 b. That the Painting would be included in the Catalogue Raisonné of
GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS CLAMAN

11 Rothko’s works then being compiled, which meant to plaintiff, as it would to any
Los Angeles, California 90067-4590
1900 Avenue of the Stars, 21st Floor

12 reasonable person in plaintiff’s position, that the Painting had been accepted by experts on
& MACHTINGER LLP

13 Rothko’s work as a genuine work by Rothko. In fact, as Seidel knew when she made this
14 false representation, the Painting had never been accepted for inclusion in the Catalogue
15 Raisonné of Mark Rothko’s works.
16 c. That the Painting was actually signed by Mark Rothko and had been
17 acquired directly from Rothko by the seller’s family. In fact, as Seidel knew, the Painting
18 was not acquired directly or indirectly from Rothko by the seller’s family or by anyone
19 else, and Rothko did not paint any part of it, never signed it or owned it, did not sell or
20 transfer it to anyone and was entirely unaware of its existence.
21 7. At the time Seidel made the foregoing misrepresentations to plaintiff,
22 defendants knew they were false and had no reasonable basis for believing that any such
23 representation was true.
24 8. On or about March 1, 2001, induced by the foregoing false representations
25 of Seidel, known to and approved by Frankfort, and acting in reasonable reliance thereon,
26 plaintiff agreed to purchase the Painting for $900,000 plus a 5% commission of $45,000.
27 Seidel sent an invoice to plaintiff in California repeating certain of Seidel’s false
28 representations and promising delivery of the Painting to plaintiff in California.
56901-00006/3130208.1 3
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR FRAUD AND BREACH OF WARRANTY, ALT. RESCISSION
1 9. During March 2001, with Frankfort’s knowledge and approval, Seidel
2 delivered the Painting to plaintiff in Los Angeles County, California, where it was
3 received by plaintiff. On delivery of the Painting, still acting in reasonable reliance on
4 defendants’ expertise and their representations alleged hereinabove, plaintiff paid Seidel
5 the agreed sum of $945,000. Ever since its delivery to plaintiff in March 2001, the
6 Painting has been hanging in plaintiff’s home in Los Angeles County, California.
7 10. In continuing and reasonable reliance on the expertise and false
8 representations of Seidel, known to and approved by Frankfort, and wholly unaware of the
9 true facts, which defendants continued to conceal from plaintiff, plaintiff continued to
10 believe, until January, 2019, that defendants’ representations were true and that the
GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS CLAMAN

11 Painting hanging in his California home was the authentic work of Mark Rothko. Acting
Los Angeles, California 90067-4590
1900 Avenue of the Stars, 21st Floor

12 reasonably on that belief and in reasonable reliance on defendants’ representations,


& MACHTINGER LLP

13 plaintiff took no prior action to hold defendants liable for their false representations,
14 which, until January 2019, he continued reasonably to believe were entirely true.
15 11. In January, 2019, plaintiff learned for the first time that, contrary to the
16 representations of Seidel, known to and approved by Frankfort, the Painting is not, in any
17 part, the work of Rothko, but is a total forgery, that it has essentially no value at all, that it
18 had never been accepted for inclusion in the Rothko Catalogue Raisonné and that it had
19 never been owned, possessed, signed or even seen by Rothko or acquired from Rothko by
20 the seller or the seller’s family or anyone else.
21 12. Defendants’ misrepresentations and continuing concealment of the true
22 facts, as alleged hereinabove, prevented plaintiff from knowing, discovering or even
23 suspecting until January 2019 that defendants’ representations were untrue and prevented
24 plaintiff from bringing any prior civil action based on the facts alleged herein.
25 13. Had defendants’ representations been true, as plaintiff reasonably believed
26 until January 2019, the present value of the Painting would be at least $10 million. Since
27 the Painting is not genuine, it has virtually no value and never will.
28
56901-00006/3130208.1 4
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR FRAUD AND BREACH OF WARRANTY, ALT. RESCISSION
1 14. As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ fraud, plaintiff has been
2 damaged in a sum in excess of $10 million.
3 15. By reason of defendants’ fraudulent conduct, plaintiff is also entitled to an
4 award of exemplary damages.
5
6 SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
7 (Breach of Warranty – Against Defendants Seidel,
8 Susan Seidel Inc. and Does 1 through 5)
9 16. Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 13 hereinabove, as
10 though fully set forth herein.
GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS CLAMAN

11 17. On or about March 1, 2001, to induce plaintiff to buy the Painting, Seidel
Los Angeles, California 90067-4590
1900 Avenue of the Stars, 21st Floor

12 expressly warranted to plaintiff orally and in writing that the Painting was the authentic
& MACHTINGER LLP

13 work of Mark Rothko, that it was signed by Rothko, that it would be included in the
14 Catalogue Raisonné of Rothko’s works then being compiled and that it had been acquired
15 by the family of the present owner directly from Rothko. Defendants were and are in
16 material breach of these express warranties. No part of the Painting was the work of
17 Rothko. It was, in fact, a total forgery that had never been owned, signed or even seen by
18 Rothko; and it had never been accepted for inclusion in the Catalogue Raisonné of
19 Rothko’s works.
20 18. In addition to defendants’ breach of their express warranties, defendants’
21 conduct was also a breach of their implied warranty of merchantability, in that (a) the
22 Painting was not fit for the purpose for which such works of art are sold and (b) the
23 Painting was not honestly resalable in the normal course of business.
24 19. Defendants’ misrepresentations and continuing concealment of the true facts
25 as alleged hereinabove prevented plaintiff from knowing or discovering, until January
26 2019, that defendants’ express and implied warranties were untrue, and prevented plaintiff
27 from bringing any prior civil action against any of the defendants based on the facts
28 alleged herein.
56901-00006/3130208.1 5
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR FRAUD AND BREACH OF WARRANTY, ALT. RESCISSION
1 20. Had defendants’ warranties been true and correct, the Painting would have a
2 present value of at least $10 million. Since defendants’ warranties were entirely untrue
3 and the Painting is a total forgery, it has virtually no present value.
4 21. As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ breach of warranty, plaintiff
5 has been damaged in a sum in excess of $10 million.
6
7 THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION
8 (In the Alternative, Negligent Misrepresentation – Against Defendants
9 Seidel, Susan Seidel Inc., Frankfort and Does 1 through 5)
10 22. Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 13 hereinabove, as
GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS CLAMAN

11 though fully set forth herein.


Los Angeles, California 90067-4590
1900 Avenue of the Stars, 21st Floor

12 23. Defendants Seidel and Frankfort, at the very least, failed to exercise due,
& MACHTINGER LLP

13 reasonable or any care commensurate with the expertise they held themselves out as
14 possessing and were, at the very least, grossly negligent in making, or, in Frankfort’s case,
15 aiding and abetting the making of, the false representations with respect to the Painting
16 alleged hereinabove, and in causing plaintiff reasonably to rely on those false
17 representations first by acquiring and paying for the Painting and thereafter by bringing no
18 prior action to rescind the sale or to recover damages.
19 24. As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ gross negligence, plaintiff
20 has suffered damages in excess of $10 million.
21
22 FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION
23 (In the Alternative, Rescission – Against Defendants Seidel,
24 Susan Seidel Inc. and Does 1 through 5)
25 24. Plaintiff incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 13 hereinabove, as
26 though fully set forth herein.
27 25. By reason of the facts alleged hereinabove, there existed, at the very least, a
28 mutual mistake of fact or a mistake of fact by plaintiff known, or which should have been
56901-00006/3130208.1 6
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR FRAUD AND BREACH OF WARRANTY, ALT. RESCISSION
1 known to Seidel and Does 1 through 5, concerning the authenticity, authorship and prior
2 ownership of the Painting and its supposed acceptance for inclusion in the Catalogue
3 Raisonné of Mark Rothko’s works .
4 26. Based on the foregoing, plaintiff is entitled to rescind his purchase of the
5 Painting and to the return from defendants of the $945,000 plaintiff paid for the Painting
6 plus interest thereon at the highest lawful rate.
7 27. Upon a judgment of such rescission and plaintiff’s receipt of such sums, he
8 will return the Painting to Seidel or her consignor.
9 WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays judgment against defendants and each of them,
10 jointly and severally, as follows:
GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS CLAMAN

11 1. For damages in the sum of $10 million or such other and greater sum as
Los Angeles, California 90067-4590
1900 Avenue of the Stars, 21st Floor

12 shall be found;
& MACHTINGER LLP

13 2. In the alternative, for rescission of plaintiff’s purchase of the Painting and


14 the return to plaintiff of the $945,000 paid to defendants;
15 3. For interest on the sum awarded hereinabove at the highest lawful rate from
16 March 1, 2001;
17 4. For exemplary damages against defendants in such sum as shall be
18 determined;
19 5. For plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees; and
20 6. For such other and further relief as the Court shall deem proper.
21
22 DATED: October 15, 2019 GREENBERG GLUSKER FIELDS
CLAMAN & MACHTINGER LLP
23
24
By:
25 BERTRAM FIELDS (SBN 024199)
Attorneys for Plaintiff Ron Meyer
26
27
28
56901-00006/3130208.1 7
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR FRAUD AND BREACH OF WARRANTY, ALT. RESCISSION