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Faggionato v. Lerner

United District Court for the Southern District of New York
500 F. Supp. 2d 237 (2007)


Anne Faggionato (plaintiff) was a United Kingdom citizen. Randolph Lerner (defendant) was a United States citizen. Lerner wanted to buy a Claude Monet painting. Faggionato was an art dealer and, at Lerner’s request, located a Monet painting in France that the owners were willing to sell. Lerner traveled to France to view the painting and discuss its sale with Faggionato. Lerner stated his intention to buy the painting but requested further documentation, including a bill of sale and the identity of the owners. Faggionato stated that the owners’ identity would be revealed “in due course,” but Faggionato never revealed the owners. Lerner decided not to buy the painting due to his transparency concerns. Faggionato sued Lerner in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking $13 million, the agreed-upon sale price. Lerner filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that Faggionato did not have standing to bring the claim. Applying its choice of law rules, the district court determined that French law applied to Faggionato’s claim because most of the significant events regarding the contract took place in France. Both parties submitted expert testimony on French law regarding the formation of contracts. Lerner’s expert witness, Professor Christian Larroumet, opined that under French law, a contract of agency was not formed, because Faggionato did not prove that the owners of the painting granted her agency powers, and because the identities of the owners were unknown. Further, Larroumet opined that under French law a third party directed to enter into a contract (a “declaration de demand”) on behalf of someone does not have standing to sue on the contract. Faggionato’s expert witness did not dispute Larroumet’s legal analysis.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Preska, J.)

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