LEADING civil litigation law firm Levitt Robinson Solicitors has completed a two week trial in the high-profile court case between Sydney barrister Louise McBride and international art auction house Christie’s, over an allegedly fake painting by legendary Australian artist Albert Tucker.
Ms McBride purchased the painting through art consultant Vivienne Sharpe from a Christie’s Australia auction in Melbourne in 2000. Christie’s had sourced the painting from Mr Alex Holland, the director of art dealership Holland Fine Art.
Ms McBride brought a claim against each of Christie’s, Holland Fine Art, Mr Holland, and Ms Sharpe, alleging misleading and deceptive conduct, and mistake in contract — leading to what was dubbed “a Sydney battle of titanic proportions” by the Sydney Morning Herald, and “one of Sydney’s best dressed court cases” by the Australian Financial Review.
The trial before her Honour Patricia Bergin, the Chief Judge in Equity at the NSW Supreme Court, received daily coverage in the news media, documenting the many ups and downs — including controversial opening remarks attacking the art industry as a whole; dramatic fall-outs between former friends; and cameos from a number of colourful art dealers.
As some pointed out, it is unusual for the art industry to allow a matter like this go to trial. The case raised a number of obscure and disputed points of law concerning such issues as limitations periods, fiduciary duties, and the liability of principals for the conduct of agents in consumer protection laws.
Assisted by Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz and Aaron Taleb, Levitt Robinson Principal Stewart Levitt instructed Mr Mark Friedgut, Counsel for Holland Fine Art and Mr Holland. Justice Bergin has reserved her judgment in the matter.