Auction house Phillips is finalizing an agreement to sell off works of art once owned by Lisa Schiff, the formerly high-profile art advisor now facing claims of fraud. Pending court approval, the auctioneer would be clear to sell more than 200 works linked to Schiff in several sales planned for 2024.
The proposed art auctions are the latest twist in a saga that began earlier this year when Schiff, a prominent art advisor based in New York, was sued by clients Candace Carmel Barasch and Richard Grossman for allegedly withholding $1.8 million from the sale of an Adrian Ghenie painting.
A subsequent lawsuit by Barasch claimed she gave Schiff $2.5 million for artwork acquisitions that never materialized. Schiff has also since been sued by American Express (AXP), which in October alleged it is owed more than $500,000 by the advisor.
In May, Schiff closed her businesses and appointed a trustee to liquidate her advisory firm Schiff Fine Art (SFA) to repay creditors, which include dozens of art collectors and institutions. Four Ann Craven paintings have since been sold for $180,000 while a batch of Max Jansen works was sold off for $20,000, according to Douglas Pick, the case’s assignee. Schiff’s book inventory has additionally been sold for $10,500.
The Phillips art auctions could fetch up to $1.5 million
Now, a proposed agreement between Pick and Phillips would see more than 200 works of art sold off by the auctioneer in eight sales, according to court documents filed on Nov. 28. Provisional estimates of the lots, which include pieces by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Richard Prince, show that the entire batch is expected to bring in up to $1.5 million.
The sales would begin with an online design auction in February and culminate in a sale scheduled for December of 2024, according to a proposed auction agreement awaiting court approval. Katherine Bradford’s Hand Shake painting, which would be included in Phillips’ New Now auction next March alongside works by artists including Ivy Haldeman and Anicka Yi, has a provisional estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.
Meanwhile, Ben Quilty’s 2018 The Easter Bunny is expected to bring in between $20,000 and $30,000 in the online 20th Century and Contemporary Art auction in May, while Katie Stout’s Double Girl Floor Lamp could fetch between $30,000 and $50,000 in a June design sale. Phillips declined requests for comment.
The 231 works, which are currently located in a storage facility in Massachusetts, are not the only pieces Pick is attempting to sell. In August, more than 800 works valued at a total of $3.1 million were listed in an inventory of SFA’s assets, with an additional 100 works valued at $1.1 million reported as missing.
“We’re still making efforts to find missing inventory,” Pick told Observer, adding that some pieces have since been located. On Nov. 14, he filed a separate claim against Schiff seeking that she turn over an additional 114 items she claims to own personally. More auction sales could be expected in the future as artwork is recovered, said Pick.