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Rosenfeld v. Basquiat

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
78 F.3d 84 (1996)


Michelle Rosenfeld (plaintiff) was an art dealer who allegedly contracted with Jean-Michel Basquiat, an artist, to purchase three of his paintings. Six years after Rosenfeld and Jean-Michel allegedly entered into the contract, Jean-Michel died. Because the contract had never been fulfilled, Rosenfeld sued the administrator of Jean-Michel’s estate, Gerard Basquiat (defendant), for damages or specific performance. At trial, Rosenfeld testified that she went to Jean-Michel’s apartment on October 25, 1982, where Jean-Michel agreed to sell her three paintings for $4,000 each. Rosenfeld gave Jean-Michel a $1,000 cash deposit, and he used crayon to write out a “contract” identifying the paintings, stating “$12,000 – $1000 DEPOSIT – OCT 25 82,” which was signed by Rosenfeld and Jean-Michel. Rosenfeld presented this “contract” at trial. Rosenfeld stated that several days later, Jean-Michel told Rosenfeld that he wanted to exhibit the paintings for a few years prior to delivery. The jury could not reach a verdict. The district court declared a mistrial, and the case was reassigned. In the second trial, Rosenfeld did not testify as to her interactions with Jean-Michel, and Rosenfeld’s attorney introduced, without any objection from Gerard, portions of Rosenfeld’s testimony from the first trial. The jury found in favor of Rosenfeld, and the district court entered judgment for Rosenfeld. Gerard appealed, arguing that the judge should not have admitted Rosenfeld’s prior testimony and that the statute of frauds barred Rosenfeld’s claim.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Cardamone, J.)

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