Alec Baldwin and Fifth Avenue art gallery battle it out

The Mary Boone Gallery and Alec Baldwin (credit Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)
The Mary Boone Gallery and Alec Baldwin (credit Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)

Back in September, Alec Baldwin filed a lawsuit against the Mary Boone Art Gallery and its owner Mary Boone in which he claimed that she had intentionally sold him a different artwork than the one he had wanted by the American artist Ross Bleckner.

Now, the gallery has responded with a motion to dismiss Baldwin’s lawsuit, in which they accuse him of intentionally avoiding $16,625 in sales tax by shipping the painting to California after buying it, having his assistant sign for it and then immediately shipping it back to New York two days later (real estate developer Michael Shvo was recently accused of engaging in similar activity).

In a statement, Mary Boone’s lawyer, Ted Poretz said: “Given his previous bad behavior, we were not surprised to learn that Mr. Baldwin apparently did not pay any New York sales tax when he bought the painting cited in his own lawsuit. Mr. Baldwin’s efforts to bully Ms. Boone and his past failure to pay taxes suggest that he is even more like Donald Trump than what we have seen on Saturday Night Live.”

Alec Baldwin was unavailable to comment on this story.

Baldwin claimed in his original lawsuit that he had approached Mary Boone about buying the Bleckner painting “Sea and Mirror” in 2010. He says that he had loved the painting so much that he had carried around an invitation in his briefcase that had it printed on it. (In the motion to dismiss, Mary Boone’s Gallery claims that “Sea and Mirror” never was printed on any of their invitations, though it did appear on a Gagosian invitation in 1996).

Baldwin claims that Mary Boone says she was able to purchase “Sea and Mirror,” selling it to him for $175,000 plus a $15,000 fee in April 2010. When he received the painting, he claims that he noticed it “appeared brighter and smelled different than he would have expected.”

Mary Boone’s lawyers now say that that the “stark differences” between “Sea and Mirror” and the painting he received should have been enough of a red flag for him to launch an investigation immediately into whether he had been sold the wrong painting. They argue that the statute of limitations for him to bring this claim to court has expired, and that he cannot claim to have only just discovered the fraud because he “should have discovered” the “obvious differences … even faster, given his long infatuation with “Sea and Mirror.”

"Sea and Mirror" from the Gagosian invitation (left) and the piece that Alec Baldwin purchased
“Sea and Mirror” from the Gagosian invitation (left) and the piece that Alec Baldwin purchased

In addition, the motion includes two receipts from shipping companies, that show Baldwin had the painting shipped to California on April 8, 2010 with a note that read: “US Art [the shipping company] to obtain signature of Summer Grindle [Baldwin’s assistant] then return to Winchester [a now-closed art company based in Brooklyn].”

Mary Boone’s lawyers claim that Baldwin’s shipment of the painting to California is proof of “both his sophistication and bad intentions,” because it allowed him to avoid paying high New York sales tax.

“He cannot at the same time commit a fraud of his own and ask the Court to exercise its discretion to award him punitive damages.”