The Barbara Mathes Gallery records pertaining to Rio Nero lawsuit measure 1.4 linear feet and date from 1989-1995. The records, assembled by Barbara Mathes, relate to the lawsuit Greenberg Gallery, Inc., et al. v. Patricia Bauman, et al. and the authenticity of the Alexander Calder mobile Rio Nero. The files contain correspondence, purchase and shipping records, and legal documents. The collection also includes printed material and photographs of the mobile.
Scope and Content Note:
The Barbara Mathes Gallery records pertaining to Rio Nero lawsuit measure 1.4 linear feet and date from 1989-1995. The collection, assembled by Barbara Mathes, relates to the lawsuit Greenberg Gallery, Inc., et al. v. Patricia Bauman, et al. regarding the authentication of the Alexander Calder mobile Rio Nero. The Barbara Mathes Gallery, co-owner of the mobile was a plaintiff in the lawsuit. The files contain correspondence between co-owners of the mobile, letters and accompanying legal documents from their attorney, purchase and shipment records, and invoices for legal fees. Legal documents are comprised of depositions, findings of fact, transcripts of proceedings, trial exhibits, and appeal briefs. Printed material includes clippings and magazine articles relating to the trial. The collection also contains photographs of the mobile.
The collection is arranged as four series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1989-1995 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 2: Legal Documents, 1991-1994 (Box 2; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 3: Printed Material, 1993-1995 (Box 2; 1 folder)
Series 4: Photographs, 1989-1990, 1993 (Box 2; 2 folders)
In 1959 Alexander Calder (1898-1976) created a black metal mobile titled Rio Nero which collector Lionel Bauman purchased from the Perls Galleries, New York City (1967). Patricia Bauman received Rio Nero from her father's estate in 1989 and consigned the mobile to the Herbert Palmer Gallery in Los Angeles and L & R Entwistle and Co., Ltd. in London. The Greenberg Gallery, Saint Louis, Missouri, purchased the mobile for $500,000 from L & R Entwistle in March 1990. The Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York; Donald Morris Gallery, Inc., Birmingham, Michigan; and John C. Stoller & Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota, each acquired a twenty-five percent share in the mobile from the Greenberg Gallery.
In May 1990, the gallery owners saw the mobile for the first time and noticed that the work neither hung properly nor moved in a manner consistent with other Calder mobiles. In December 1990, the owners asked Klaus Perls, the noted authority on Calder and the artist's primary dealer from 1955-1976, to authenticate the Rio Nero mobile. After Perls deemed the work a forgery, Patricia Bauman declined to reverse the sale and the four galleries instituted legal proceedings. The plaintiffs, Greenberg Gallery et al., contended that Patricia Bauman, or someone acting on her behalf, switched the original mobile with a forgery and then presented it to L & R Entwistle as a Calder mobile.
In April 1993, the case was tried without a jury in Washington, D. C. and the Federal District Court awarded judgment to the defendants, Patricia Bauman and L & R Entwistle. The judge presiding over the case, Judge Oberdorfer, ruled out the testimony of Klaus Perls and the plaintiffs subsequently appealed the case. In 1994, the Alexander and Louisa Calder Foundation declined to include the mobile in the catalogue raisonné on the artist. On appeal, judgment was not overturned.
The papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Barbara Mathes in 2005.
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