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Jonathan Cohen QC and Ashley Cukier in High Court victory over sale of Gauguin masterpiece

On Tuesday 16 January 2018 the High Court handed down judgment in ACLBDD Holdings Limited & Ors v Staechelin & Ors [2018] EWHC 44 (Ch).

Jonathan Cohen QC and Ashley Cukier represented the successful Claimants, de Pury & de Pury LLP, in respect of its claim for a $10 million commission arising from the sale of a Gauguin painting, Nafea faa ipoipo (“When will you marry”), one of the finest pieces of art in the world and also one of the most expensive, having been sold to the Emir of Qatar in September 2014 for $210 million. The Claimants argued that the commission was earned and became payable in respect of the services that Mr & Mrs de Pury provided to the Defendant trustees in procuring the sale of the painting. The claim was defended, not only on the basis that there was no contract for commission, but also because Mr and Mrs de Pury were alleged to have engaged in a serious breach of fiduciary duty, thereby forfeiting their commission. Each of those defences failed.

In addition to giving a rare insight into dealings at the very top of the international art market, the case is notable for the fact that the Claimants succeeded in full on their primary case, namely that the $10m commission was due pursuant to the express terms of a contract concluded orally by Mr & Mrs de Pury in the months leading up to the eventual sale of the painting. The case therefore bucks the recent trend of high value, unsuccessful oral contract claims brought in the High Court.
A link to the judgment can be found HERE.

Jonathan Cohen QC and Ashley Cukier were instructed by Grosvenor Law.

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