ART/Contract Law Update

Richard Green (Fine Paintings) v. McClendon

A Recent U.S. DISTRICT COURT, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK decision wherein Emails between parties are sufficient to form a contract (and satisfy Statute of Frauds Requirement)

September 16, 2010

Art dealer plaintiff was paid $500,000 in 2007 by defendants toward a painting’s $4.2 million purchase price. Balance was due within a year and the painting was to be delivered to defendants’ home. Defendants later divorced and failed to pay the balance. After Mr. McClendon’s death, plaintiff decided to proceed against Ms. McClendon solely to recover the purchase price. In granting plaintiff summary judgment on his contract breach claim, the court rejected Ms. McClendon’s assertion that the $500,000 payment was not a firm commitment to buy the painting, but was merely to hold it for a year. It also rejected her assertion that the alleged contract for the painting’s purchase was an oral agreement unenforceable under the Statute of Frauds. Among other things, the court found that three e-mails between plaintiff and Ms. McClendon, taken together, were a writing satisfying the Statute of Fraud. The parties’ contract, as reflected by the e-mails, was unambiguous as to the painting’s “quantity, price, and time and manner of delivery.” In finding that Ms. McClendon accepted the painting for UCC§2-206 purposes, the court noted that she and her husband had inspected the painting when the agreement was negotiated.

Via: New York Law Journal

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