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Estate of Nelson v. Rice

Arizona Court of Appeals
12 P.3d 238 (2000)



Edward Franz and Kenneth Newman (plaintiffs), the representatives of the estate of Martha Nelson (Estate) (plaintiff) scheduled an estate sale after her death. An appraiser, who did not appraise fine art, was brought in to assess the value of the property. She told the representatives that she would notify them of any fine art she saw so that they could hire an independent appraiser. She did not report any fine art. At the sale, Carl Rice (defendant) purchased two oil paintings for $60. He was not a knowledgeable collector and assumed the paintings were not originals. Nevertheless, after comparing signatures on the works to a book of artist signatures, he submitted photos of the paintings to the auction house Christie’s, which authenticated the works as genuine paintings by Martin Johnson Heade. Christie’s sold the paintings for Rice on consignment, netting him $911,780. The Estate sued Rice to rescind or reform the sale transaction on the grounds of mutual mistake and unconscionability. Rice moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The Estate appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Espinosa, C.J.)

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