Alec Baldwin suing Manhattan art dealer

Actor Alec Baldwin is suing Manhattan art dealer Mary Boone for allegedly defrauding him in the purchase of a US$190,000 (£144,090) painting.

In court papers filed at the New York State Supreme Court on Monday (12 September), Baldwin accused Boone of selling him a 2010 copy of a painting by Ross Bleckner entitled ‘Sea and Mirror’ when she had promised to supply him with the 1996 original. Baldwin even asserts that Boone fraudulently stamped the back of the painting with the gallery inventory number of the original work in an effort to dupe him. 

The painting’s bright appearance and unexpected fresh smell provided the first clues that something was amiss when it reached Baldwin’s hands in 2010. At the time Boone reassured him this was because the work had been cleaned but his suspicions were raised once again in May 2016. While attending an event at Manhattan’s Marianne Boesky Gallery Baldwin spoke with several art experts who told him no gallery owner would ever clean a work without first obtaining the purchaser’s permission. When Baldwin had the painting examined by experts at Sotheby’s they confirmed the work was not the Bleckner original.

Lawyer for Boone, Ted Poretz, dismissed Baldwin’s complaint as a “vindictive and frivolous lawsuit” and an attempt at intimidating his client. He claimed Baldwin knew from the beginning that he was not being sold the original work and added that the actor’s lawsuit his “is not surprising given his history of lashing out against anyone he believes is beneath him”. According to Poretz, Boone’s gallery has offered Baldwin a full refund. Baldwin is suing for the the difference in value between the original and the copy at a price to be determined by art expert testimony plus legal fees.

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