Weil v. Murray

161 F. Supp. 2d 250 (2001)

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Weil v. Murray

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
161 F. Supp. 2d 250 (2001)

Facts

Mark Murray (defendant), an art dealer, visited Robert Weil (plaintiff) to view paintings in his collection. The painting, Aux Courses by Edgar Degas (the Degas) appealed to Murray. Murray spoke with Ian Peck (defendant), another art dealer, about the Degas. Peck indicated interest in purchasing the Degas. Murray arranged for the painting’s consignment to Murray’s gallery for private inspection. After the painting arrived, Murray showed the painting to Peck. Murray claimed that Peck agreed to purchase the Degas for $1,225,000 with Murray as the broker. Murray informed Weil of Peck’s interest. Murray and Weil orally agreed to a sale, which was later confirmed in writing. Peck’s attorney wrote the first draft of the written agreement with Peck listed as the buyer. Murray changed the references to the buyer from Peck to Murray. Ultimately, Murray claimed that he showed Peck a version of the agreement that contained Murray’s changes and that Peck authorized Murray to sign the agreement. Peck claimed Murray merely showed him the agreement so Peck would know the purchase price and did not discuss signing the agreement. Murray and Weil executed the written agreement for the sale with Murray listed as the buyer and a guarantee that the undisclosed principal (Peck) would be bound by the agreement. Murray retained possession of the Degas for several months after the execution of the agreement, but neither Murray nor Peck paid Weil. However, while Murray possessed the painting, Peck paid an art conservator to correct deterioration of the painting without Weil’s knowledge. Murray eventually returned the painting to Weil. Weil brought an action against Murray and Peck for the price and moved for summary judgment. Peck also moved for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Mukasey, J.)

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