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Latest on Marlene Dumas collector vs. dealer, short lists and blacklists

April 22, 2010 |  6:00 am

Reinhardt_web Collectors chasing after new work by big-name artists like Marlene Dumas, Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince know all about lists.

There are the short lists: collectors who for whatever reason (whether a cozy relationship with the artist or gallery or ties to a museum where they might donate the work) get first pick from a gallery exhibition.

There are the waiting lists: those who don't make that first cut.

And for certain artists at certain galleries there are also the blacklists: collectors not allowed to buy the artist's work from the gallery, typically because they are perceived to be speculators looking to flip the work.

So what happens when a powerful collector says he's been bumped from short list to blacklist?

That question is at the core of an $8-million lawsuit brought March 29 by Craig Robins, the Miami art collector and real estate developer who made his fortune by turning South Beach from a sleepy retirement strip into a nonstop party destination in the late '80s.  

Robins claims that word of his liquidating a Dumas painting from his collection, "Reinhardt's Daughter," landed him on the artist's blacklist, preventing him from buying further works, and he has sued Dumas' New York dealer David Zwirner for allegedly disclosing the sale.

Robins also filed a preliminary injunction against Zwirner to stop the dealer from selling three paintings from his current Dumas show that Robins says would have been his top choices.

A hearing for the injunction took place in Manhattan on Tuesday, and Sarah Douglas has the blow-by-blow on Artinfo.

Among the revelations: former Dumas dealer Jack Tilton, subpoenaed by Robins' team, spoke of the existence of not just one but "several" Dumas blacklists--and a "grey list" as well. The judge's ruling on the injunction is expected shortly.

In the New York Times, Randy Kennedy gave an overview of the suit. What looks like a "fairly ordinary contract dispute," he wrote, offers a window onto "a normally very private world of high-end art selling in which membership rules, responsibilities, rewards and reprisals can be so complex and changeable that even art world veterans say they sometimes struggle to decode them."

In New York magazine earlier this month, art critic Jerry Saltz finally found something to like about Marlene Dumas' work.

--Jori Finkel

On twitter @jorifinkel

Above: "Reinhardt's Daughter," 1994, by Marlene Dumas