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Alexander Calder heirs see their lawsuit against dealer dismissed

Alexander Calder heirs see their lawsuit against dealer dismissed
Works in the exhibition "Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic," at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Fredrik Nilsen / Calder Foundation / LACMA)

The heirs of Alexander Calder have seen their fraud lawsuit against the late artist's dealer dismissed in a decision handed down by a judge in the New York State Supreme Court.

Calder's heirs -- including his two daughters, Sandra and Mary -- filed a suit against the executors of the former Perls Galleries in New York in 2010, alleging that the defendants possessed works by Calder as well as other items that belonged to family members.

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Lawyers for the defendants have denied the allegations. The plaintiffs were seeking damages of $20 million. Among the items in contention were a Calder mobile titled "Standing Constellation" and many other works.

The defendants in the case were the heirs and executors of the late Klaus Perls, who ran the gallery business along with his wife, Amelia.

In a decision dated Dec. 23, Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich wrote that "all of these allegations are so patently inadequate that the court can only conclude that they were brought solely for the purposes of harassment or embarrassment, without any consideration of their legal sufficiency."

The judge also invoked the statute of limitations, writing that the plaintiffs were trying to litigate issues that stretched back "decades without any personal knowledge or contemporaneous records, where nearly all of the people who had personal knowledge of the facts are dead."

Calder died in 1976 and Klaus Perls died in 2008. At the height of Calder's career, the two had a close working relationship and were widely regarded as friends.

Calder is the subject of a major exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition, titled "'Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic," is scheduled to run through July 27.

Lawyers representing the Calder heirs are expected to appeal the ruling.

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