Ovitz, Shepard Fairey among creditors in Rubenstein Gallery bankruptcy

Mike Kelley's "Deodorized Central Mass With Satellites," 1991-99, mixed media, shown at Perry Rubenstein Gallery in November 2012.
Mike Kelley’s “Deodorized Central Mass With Satellites,” 1991-99, mixed media, shown at Perry Rubenstein Gallery in November 2012.
(Perry Rubenstein Gallery)

The list of creditors in a recent bankruptcy filing for the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in Los Angeles reads like a Hollywood art-world summit. Among those with claims against the gallery, according to court documents: Creative Artists Agency founder and former Walt Disney Co. President Michael Ovitz, L.A. artists Shepard Fairey and Zoe Crosher, renowned Dutch photographer Iwan Baan and German sculptor Georg Herold.

The gallery, which arrived from New York in June 2012 with a star-studded opening, debuted its swanky, 9,500-square-foot Highland Avenue space with a Helmut Newton photography exhibition that drew rock legend Neil Young, actress Ginnifer Goodwin, producer Steve Tisch and Jeffrey Deitch, then director of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In November 2013 Ovitz sued the gallery for fraud and breach of contract. The lawsuit said Rubenstein sold two pieces for Ovitz by American appropriation artist Richard Prince and owed Ovitz proceeds totaling nearly $1 million. Ovitz said one of the Prince works, “Nobody’s Home,” was sold for less than the agreed upon price of $575,000, according to court documents.

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The buyer of “Nobody’s Home,” art consulting firm Art Advisory Limited, which the lawsuit said purchased the work for $475,000, also sued Rubenstein. In court documents, it said the legal tangle with Ovitz had prevented it “from taking possession of the painting.”

At the time Ovitz’s lawsuit was filed, Rubenstein said he wouldn’t speak about case specifics but told The Times: “Personally, I prefer resolution and relationships. There are some, very few, that prefer litigation. In this case, I would consider the source.”

The gallery filed for bankruptcy last month, and court documents filed April 11 include a list of artists among the creditors. The claim amount for Fairey’s operation, Obey Giant, is listed in the court papers as about $159,000. The claim amount is nearly $105,000 for Crosher and about $364,000 for Herold, the filing says.

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“The documents are accurate. We’re obliged to file accurate documents,” Rubenstein told The Times on Thursday. “These are all matters that are being resolved civilly and, hopefully, expeditiously.”

The photographer Baan is allegedly owed nearly $180,000 for an artist’s commission, according to the filing.

Married actors Simon Baker and Rebecca Rigg are allegedly owed about $43,500, according to the filing, for “refund for cancelled sale.”

Also among the creditors: Fitz & Co., the firm of Sara E. Fitzmaurice. Fitzmaurice and Rubenstein were married for 17 years but announced that they were divorcing earlier this year. Her company, which is prominent in art-world public relations and has represented the Guggenheim Museum, Gagosian Gallery and Christies, is owed more than $59,000, according to court papers.

A Bankruptcy Court meeting of creditors is set for April 29 in Los Angeles.


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