Resale royalty lawsuits filed against nine California galleries
West Hollywood art dealer Manny Silverman says he opened his gallery in 1987 at the urging of abstract painter Sam Francis. Now he’s being sued by the Sam Francis Foundation, as are eight other galleries who allegedly refused to pay a 5% royalty promised to the foundation under the 1976 California Resale Royalty Act.
The other defendants in the class-action suit are the Ace, Leslie Sacks, Hamilton/Selway, Denis Bloch, and Lora Schlesinger galleries in Los Angeles, and Scott Richards, Martin Lawrence and Hackett/Mill in San Francisco. All complaints were filed Wednesday in Los Angeles and San Francisco superior courts by Browne George Ross, the firm that recently filed a pair of class-action suits against auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's under the same law.
Silverman, who called Sam Francis “one of his oldest friends in the art world,” said the word of the lawsuit "comes as a total shock." He added that since opening his gallery, "I have been working with Sam Francis and later his estate. I feel it is a real shame that if the foundation had these thoughts we could not have sat down and talked about it.”
Read the full story about a law that has been described over the years as unevenly publicized and little enforced.
Photo: Artist Robert Rauschenberg, from left, Gov. Jerry Brown, State Sen. Alan Sieroty and accountant Ruben Gorewitz at the signing of the California Resale Royalty Act in 1976. Credit: Harriet Zeitlin