Hoffmann v. Boone

708 F. Supp. 78 (1989)

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Hoffmann v. Boone

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
708 F. Supp. 78 (1989)

Facts

In April 1988, Mary Boone (defendant) mounted an exhibition at her New York gallery. It included a painting called Grey #1. Paul Hoffmann (plaintiff) was an art collector living in Florida who, along with his wife, frequently purchased from Boone. Hoffmann alleged that Boone had verbally agreed, in or around April 1988, to sell him Grey #1 for $120,000. According to Hoffmann, Boone invited him to a preview of the exhibition, where she quoted $120,000 for Grey #1 and reserved it for him. Hoffmann flew his wife to New York to secure her approval, then contacted Boone and confirmed his desire to purchase the piece. Several days later, Boone invited Hoffmann to consider a different piece by the same artist, but Hoffmann settled on Grey #1 and traveled again to New York to execute the sale. He was, however, unable to get in touch with Boone. At some point during this process, Hoffmann, assuming he had purchased the painting, included Grey #1 in the catalog for an upcoming collection exhibition. Hoffmann also bypassed the opportunity to purchase other artworks in his pursuit of Grey #1. Boone’s story was different. She claimed that Hoffmann had approached her at the exhibition to inquire about Grey #1 and that she quoted him a price of $125,000. However, she claimed they had made no agreement and had no further contact. Hoffmann sued, seeking delivery of Grey #1 or compensation for Boone’s failure to deliver. Boone filed for summary judgment, asserting that § 2-201(1) of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) barred the alleged contract’s enforcement because the contract was a verbal agreement for the sale of goods priced over $500. In response, Hoffmann invoked the equitable doctrine of promissory estoppel.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Mukasey, J.)

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