MANHATTAN (CN) - Two art collectors claim in court that a New York-based gallery swiped four Norman Rockwell paintings.
Larry Kritcher, of Florida, and Eve Thyrum, of Texas, say they paid $1,475 to restore and reframe five Rockwells at the (nonparty) Art Conservation Resource Center in Boston.
Kritcher and Thyrum claim that in 1995 they consigned the retouched paintings to defendant Illustration House, a Manhattan gallery that estimated that the pieces would sell for at least $76,000.
"Upon information and belief, the value of these five paintings has tripled to $228,000," according to the complaint in New York County Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs say one piece was sold at auction for $9,000 in 1996, and they got a $7,785 cut. But they say they received no word about the four other works for 16 years, until they started calling Illustration House for updates from January to March this year.
"Kritcher's calls were ignored," the complaint states.
The plaintiffs say they hired a Florida lawyer in April, whose letter was ignored as well. In May, they say, a second attorney got no response to a certified letter, though an Illustration House an employee received it and signed with the name "Longenbach."
"Defendants have perpetuated a fraud against plaintiffs, acted maliciously, and have committed the crime of larceny," the complaint states.
Kritcher and Thyrum say they also consigned illustrations by Matt Clark and Robert Riggs to the gallery. The complaint does not state what happened to these pieces.
The plaintiffs demand $500,000 in punitive damages.
Named as defendants are Illustration House, its founder Walt Reed, its president Roger Reed, and its employee Fred Taraba.The plaintiffs are represented by Harvey Spizz, with Spizz & Cooper, of Mineola.