Judge: Rudolf Stingel Painting in Inigo Philbrick Lawsuit Must Remain with Christie’s for Now

While its ownership is being contested by multiple parties, an untitled Rudolf Stingel painting of a photograph of Pablo Picasso must remain in the hands of Christie’s auction house, a judge said in a new legal filing.

In a filing on Monday in the Supreme Court of New York, Justice Joel M. Cohen ordered that the Stingel work be kept at the auction house’s New York location for the time being. A lawsuit was filed by Guzzini Properties, Ltd., a company that collects art, in November.

The work, which sold at a Christie’s auction in New York in May 2019 for $6.52 million, has been the subject of multiple competing ownership claims. The various legal actions surrounding the Stingel painting have been at the center of continuing drama surrounding Inigo Philbrick, a dealer who was sued last year by the German art firm Fine Art Partners, which alleged that he was withholding $14 million in art.

In the FAP suit, the firm alleged that it financed Philbrick’s purchase of the painting, and that the dealer then sold it without their knowledge, in 2017. Guzzini claimed in its suit that the Stingel was one of three works the company agreed to buy from Philbrick in 2017 for $6 million, and that, after their purchase, it sat in storage in Switzerland for two years before being consigned to Christie’s.

In its suit, Guzzini claimed that it entered into a deal with Aleksandar Pesko, who has allegedly not paid a sum that the company is owed. (Pesko has previously denied the claims.) Pesko and Satfinance Investment Ltd. are also among those seeking title to the Stingel painting.

A representative for Christie’s confirmed that the painting was in storage and said the house would “monitor the continuing case.” A lawyer for Guzzini declined to comment.

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