George Lindemann Jr’s Green Journal October 2013 — Volkswagen Constellation

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Calder’s Heirs Accuse Dealer of Fraud @nytimes The George Lindemann Journal

The between dealer and artist can be a of love affair, with its passions and confidences, interests and Such was the case with the Alexander Calder and Klaus G. who represented him from 1954 Calder’s death in 1976. The two dined and traveled together, and each other’s families. Calder came to Manhattan, he stayed at Perls’s Madison townhouse.

“He trusted him completely,” Calder’s grandson Alexander S. C. who added that he himself Perls and his wife, Amelia, “a aunt and uncle.”

But now that has dissolved into a bitter between the families of the two men.

In a amended complaint filed in New State Supreme Court, the estate says the Perlses held on to hundreds of Calder’s and swindled the artist’s estate out of of millions of dollars. Perhaps surprising, it says that a dealer with a sterling who campaigned to rid his industry of forgeries, dozens of fake Calders. The depicts Perls as a tax cheat who millions of dollars in a Swiss account, a secret his daughter she maintained by paying off a former employee with $5 million. She that Calder had his own hidden account.

Mr. Rower. seated in the Chelsea of the Calder Foundation. surrounded by black-and-red maquettes made by his reflected on the case one recent “It’s really kind of that they turned out to be he said of Klaus and Amelia

Steven W. Wolfe, a lawyer for the side, declined to comment, a judge’s ruling on pending was imminent. But in court papers, he the Calder lawsuit as a “sham and claim.” He characterized it as a fishing one that is finding only the of gaps in records that are when tracking 25-year-old from a gallery that has closed for more than 15 The Perls family has asked the to dismiss the case, also that the statute of limitations has

That this close has devolved into a lawsuit is a development. While Calder is as one of the 20th century’s most artists, Perls has his own corner in the of modern art. He was a pioneering of African art, and donated of those pieces, as well as $60 worth of masterworks by Modernists Picasso and Modigliani, to the Metropolitan of Art.

When Perls died years ago, at the age of 96, that director called him “a connoisseur and a a “distinguished honorary trustee, and friend.”

Although many of the surprising accusations surfaced in papers filed over the the legal dispute began years ago with a chance In 2010, a Canadian gallery the Calder Foundation, of which Mr. is chairman, about a $1.5 wooden mobile titled Constellation.” It had been purchased the Perls Foundation, a trust set up the Perls Gallery closed in Mr. Rower said he was puzzled “Standing Constellation” had not been on an inventory of holdings provided by the Gallery after Calder’s nor had the Calder estate received any from its sale.

Mr. Rower, who has more than 15 years the definitive catalog of Calder’s examined the Calder Foundation’s records and said he found other works in the Perls that were later without the estate’s knowledge. were listed as being by a woman in Switzerland known as “Madame Andre.”

Mr. Rower said he was already with the dealer’s family it had not turned over a large of archives, drawings and monogramming used by Calder to sign his that Amelia Perls, who in 2002, had previously promised in a to give him. So in 2010, the family sued the Perls the dealer’s daughter, Katherine and “Madame Andre” for the archives and the missing from the inventory.

As the began to dig, however, it several discoveries.

First, Constellation” was only one of nearly 700 bronze sculptures, jewelry and works worth well in of $20 million that had been in the hands and are unaccounted for, papers say.

The Calder also learned that the kept at least two sets of — a practice that the Perls said was not unusual. Then it out that the mysterious “Madame was not a person at all, but a nickname for the Swiss bank account. As Perls acknowledged in an affidavit, Andre” was a euphemism for her father’s account, “perhaps even a or shorthand reference for this or to avoid disclosing to others who present that he did have Swiss account.”

Ms. Perls added that too, kept a Swiss account, to which Perls transferred the artist’s profits. In papers, Mr. Wolfe, the Perls said, “Alexander Calder and Perls were kindred in that they both had an to paying taxes.”

Mr. Rower that he has found no record of an account and that the estate has received any assets from it.

Ms. in a deposition, dismissed the assertion her family had hidden anything Calder or his estate. While the ledgers are missing, she said a shows that, in 1970, gave “Standing Constellation” to her as a gift.

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Ms. Perls has acknowledged when a gallery employee, Mayhew, sued the family for worth $10 million in 2005, she he would reveal the hidden in Switzerland to the I.R.S. and expose her father. As a result, she said, she to pay Mr. Mayhew $5 million after According to court papers, she she believed she was “being blackmailed.” R. Gordon, Mr. Mayhew’s lawyer, to comment.

When the government instituted a tax program in 2009 for Americans who hiding money in offshore the Perls estate applied, papers show, and a settlement was

Mr. Rower said the disturbing continued. In a deposition, Mr. Mayhew that the Perls Gallery had approximately 30 fake Calders. Mr. said that he is not sure such sales were but that he knows the gallery had to some claims related to the of counterfeits in the 1980s.

“I was in there someone walked in who had bought a Mr. Rower recalled.

But the number of sales astounded him. By through the foundation’s records and photographs of supposed Calder some of which were to known forgers, he said he has that the gallery handled at 61 counterfeits.

Ms. Perls said in a that she is convinced that her never knowingly sold any

The Calder estate’s lawsuit that some illicit — from the sale of counterfeits and Calder originals — were to purchase the modern and African art Perls gave to the Met, the papers do not contain any specific The museum declined to comment.

James Goodman, a veteran who was one of the founders, with Perls, of the Art Association of America, said he skeptical of the accusations, adding he knew Klaus Perls to be an dealer.

Mr. Rower says he to his conclusion about Perls “It gives me no pleasure to talk this,” he said, but “there is example after example example after example of

Published: October 29, 2013

Volkswagen Constellation
Volkswagen Constellation


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