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New York Gallery Seeks Settlement with Russian Collector in Dispute Over Missing Stanley Whitney Paintings


A New York gallery has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought against it by collector Andrey Isaev over its alleged failure to deliver two Stanley Whitney paintings collectively worth $5 million. 




Per a filing in New York Supreme Court on March 29, Isaev purchased from Manhattan’s Gary Tatintsian Gallery in February 2022 two Whitney oil paintings respectively worth $2.45 million and $2.8 million (for a total of $5.25 million paid). But the court filings say that the gallery never delivered either painting to Isaev. The collector ultimately accepted a “lower valued” Whitney painting in April 2022 for $1.85 million, with the explicit understanding that the gallery would refund Isaev the $3.4 million balance of the original purchases. 




But as of December 7 of that year, Isaev had received only $1.49 million (excluding interest), leaving almost $2 million still owed to him by the gallery. That August, Isaev filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for charges including “civil theft” and “fraud in the inducement,” referring to when one party is duped in a written agreement by inaccurate fraudulent statements.




Gary Tatintsian, a Russian art dealer and owner of his eponymous gallery, stated that the enterprise will pay Isaev $2 million, plus statutory interest.




In addition to his New York space, Tatintsian also runs a showroom in Dubai’s gallery district, Alserkal Avenue; a Moscow branch is listed on Google Maps as being “temporarily closed.” On its website, the gallery says it has in its inventory works by Frank Stella, Peter Halley, Christopher Wool, and Carroll Dunham, as well as international heavy-hitters such as Damien Hirst.




Tatinsian’s gallery and a legal representative for Isaev did not respond to requests for comment.




The Isaev lawsuit is one of several to have included Tatintsian in the past decade and a half. In 2012, Tatintsian accused Lew Nussberg , a Russian-born artist, art historian, and dealer, of selling him forgeries—which Tatintsian later sold to Russian businessmen for millions of dollars. In his lawsuit against Nussberg, Tatintsian accused him of lying about the ownership history, or provenance, of the works.




A series of complex legal battles followed in which an array of powerful figures became involved. A Moscow-based firm determined that the works were fakes, and Tatintsian refunded $3 million to dozens of clients who returned the disputed works. Nussberg maintained that he did not sell Tatintsian forgeries.




The lawsuit involving the two Whitney works was filed by Isaev in 2023, about a year after Whitney joined Gagosian , one of the world’s largest galleries. The initial lawsuit centered around transactions that allegedly took place in February 2022, around the time that Whitney’s market began to grow. In November 2021, Whitney’s auction record was set by the sale of a painting at Sotheby’s for $2.32 million. His work is currently the subject of a retrospective at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum in New York.




The online inventory for Gary Tatintsian Gallery currently lists four available paintings by Whitney, each a vibrantly colored, irregular grid: Forward To Black (1996), Lush Life (2014), Stay Song #24 (2018), and Monk & Munch 15 (2021).




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