New York – LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – September 14, 2006 — Chadbourne & Parke LLP helped a Polish sculptor living in Paris retrieve sculptures she had exhibited in a New York gallery after the owner of the gallery refused to return them.
Chadbourne, acting pro bono on the matter, also worked out a settlement of all legal claims between the artist and the gallery, with final dismissal of the suit and countersuits coming on August 22.
The saga of Ludwika Ogorzelec began in January 2000 when several of her wood sculptures were exhibited at a gallery in Chelsea, an area of Manhattan that is home to many galleries. Following the exhibition of her work, Ms. Ogorzelec entered into a consignment agreement with the owner of the gallery. After a period of time during which the owner was unable to sell the sculptures, Ms. Ogorzelec requested that her work be returned. However, the gallery owner refused and demanded without justification that Ms. Ogorzelec pay him $50,000 to get her work back.
Ms. Ogorzelec was referred to Chadbourne & Parke by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
In August 2005, Chadbourne filed a complaint on behalf of Ms. Ogorzelec against the gallery owner and two of his galleries seeking the return of her sculptures and/or damages. The gallery owner filed an answer and several counterclaims, asserting, among other things, that Ms. Ogorzelec had defamed him in Milan, Italy, thereby “tortiously interfering” with his “contractual relations” with his girlfriend. Chadbourne investigated the Italian defamation claim by speaking to a gallery owner in Milan to whom some of the defamatory statements were alleged to have been made and found them to be without substance.
On February 2, 2006, the Chadbourne pro bono team of partner Tom Bezanson and associates Ian Anderson and Emily Abrahams attended a hearing before Judge Richard Braun of the New York State Supreme Court on the gallery owner’s motion to dismiss his new gallery from the action. Before Judge Braun heard arguments, he asked the defendant’s lawyer, “Why hasn’t your client returned Ms. Ogorzelec’s sculptures?” The defendant’s lawyer had no answer to the question, so Judge Braun ordered the defendant to return them, and the parties entered into a stipulation giving Chadbourne access to the sculptures within three weeks at an undisclosed location “within the State of New York.”
“I am extremely grateful for Chadbourne’s efforts,” said Ms. Ogorzelec. “When I came to Chadbourne I had almost given up hope of ever retrieving my sculptures.”
On February 25, 2006, Mr. Anderson, Ms. Abrahams and paralegal Niall Reynolds went to retrieve Ms. Ogorzelec’s sculptures from a warehouse in Chelsea, accompanied by “Buzz” McCall and Alan Scarritt — two local artists familiar with Ms. Ogorzelec and her work.
By the end of the day, the team successfully retrieved six out of seven of Ms. Ogorzelec’s sculptures (the gallery owner denied possessing the seventh) and transported them safely to another location. Following some wrangling over the terms of a settlement agreement, Ms. Ogorzelec eventually agreed not to pursue her claim for the seventh sculpture in return for the gallery owner’s agreement to dismiss his counterclaims.
About Chadbourne & Parke LLP
Chadbourne & Parke LLP, an international law firm headquartered in New York City, provides a full range of legal services, including mergers and acquisitions, securities, project finance, corporate finance, energy, telecommunications, commercial and products liability litigation, securities litigation and regulatory enforcement, special investigations and litigation, intellectual property, antitrust, domestic and international tax, insurance and reinsurance, environmental, real estate, bankruptcy and financial restructuring, employment law and ERISA, trusts and estates and government contract matters. The Firm has offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kyiv, Almaty, Warsaw (through a Polish partnership), Beijing, and a multinational partnership, Chadbourne & Parke, in London. For additional information, visit www.chadbourne.com.