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Gagosian Gallery Files Motion to Dismiss Steven Tananbaum’s Jeff Koons ‘Non-Delivery’ Lawsuit

BY Alex Greenberger

Gagosian Gallery, Inc. and Jeff Koons, LLC have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit in which Jeff Koons’s studio was charged with “non-delivery” of three sculptures by the artist that the collector Steven Tananbaum had agreed to purchase. The motion, filed on Wednesday night in New York Supreme Court, states that Tananbaum’s complaint was “larded” with “rambling and overwrought allegations,” and alleges that the collector had been made aware, through various forms of documentation, of prospective timelines for the development of his purchases.


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A Jeff Koons Balloon Dog at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


In his complaint filed in April, Tananbaum claimed to have agreed to buy Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels (Magenta), 2013–15, an eight-and-a-half-foot-long stainless steel sculpture with transparent color coating, in September 2014, with a completion date allegedly set for December 2015. That date was then delayed first to September 2016, then to June 2018, and finally to August 2019—for reasons the suit cited as “complicated reverse engineering by the fabricator . . . which is taking longer than anticipated.” Prior to his lawsuit, Tananbaum had made a deposit and three payments on Balloon Venus totaling $6.4 million. Similar circumstances surrounded two other postponed works by Koons, the suit alleged: Eros, for which Tananbaum had made payments equaling $2.4 million, and Diana, for which he paid $4.3 million.

The new motion to dismiss filed on behalf of Gagosian and Koons by the New York law firm Dontzin Nagy & Fleissig states, “Although the Gallery has met all of its obligations under the Purchase Agreements, Mr. Tananbaum now claims that he has the right to walk away because the artist is purportedly taking too long to create the Works and Mr. Tananbaum is not prepared to ‘wait’ any longer. But the imperious demands of a multimillionaire who no longer wants to wait cannot trump the plain and unambiguous language of the Purchase Agreements, which do not require Mr. Koons to create the Works by any specified deadline.”

As characterized in the motion to dismiss, “the completion dates for the Works are only ‘estimated’ and, accordingly, that time is not of the essence in the parties’ agreements.”

In late April, Gagosian was also sued by producer Joel Silver, who alleged that the gallery had not delivered a Koons sculpture he had agreed to purchase for $8 million. (Koons’s studio was not named in that complaint.) On May 21, Gagosian filed a motion to dismiss Silver’s suit.

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