An article in the Connecticut Law Tribune titled “Legal Fight Brews Over Ownership of Jackson Pollock Artwork in Connecticut” discussed a federal lawsuit that alleged a Greenwich, CT native conducted “statutory theft” by refusing to return a loaned Jackson Pollock painting estimated to be worth $175,000. The piece is presently in a private residence and not a museum or gallery.
Wendy Battleson was quoted in the article discussing the unusual nature of the case:
Art expert Wendy Battleson, who is not involved in the litigation, said it’s quite common for art owners to loan their pieces to museums and art exhibits, but not to private individuals.
Battleson, an art law attorney with Sanborn & Battleson, had previously worked for 10 years at Christie’s Inc., most recently as its senior vice president and global head of art finance.
Battleson said Monday, “I don’t understand why this piece was loaned to an individual. It’s very odd that it went to a museum and then back to a private house. There is no real benefit to the owner of having it sit in someone’s home.”
Battleson said the plaintiff “absolutely has a good case here. The challenge is does he have proof he is the owner. There does not seem to be any reason for Mr. Bergstein to still retain it.”
Battleson said having art displayed or loaned helps drive up the value of the piece.
Battleson continued: “Typically, when a piece of art is loaned there is a condition report drafted by an art expert. It details everything about the painting in terms of colors, repair work, etc. If it comes back in a different condition, the insurance company would determine the loss in value based on damages.”