February 2024 - HHR is advising New York art gallery owner Edward Tyler Nahem in a dispute over ownership of the multimillion-dollar Alexander Calder sculpture “Mobile de Bretagne,” which Nahem purchased in 2017 from French art dealer Elisabeth Royer-Grimblat.

Royer-Grimbalt acquired the sculpture from the estate of Frédérique Groën-Nitzschke in 2017 and subsequently sold it to Nahem for $4.5 million. After this sale, one of Groën-Nitzschke’s daughters, Eleonore Groën-Nitzschke, who goes by the pseudonym Lea Lee, filed suit in New York state court against Royer-Grimblat, Nahem and Lee’s two sisters, alleging the artwork had been stolen.

Lee’s suit contended that her sisters stole the sculpture from her mother’s estate without her consent and illegally sold it to Royer-Grimbalt, who subsequently and illegally sold it to Nahem. In an affidavit, Lee claimed that, before her mother died in December 2017, she expressed a desire for the family to keep her artworks. Lee’s sisters deny this claim, alleging that their mother consigned the artwork to Royer-Grimblat while she was alive.

Last June, a New York judge dismissed Lee’s lawsuit, stating there was enough evidence that Royer-Grimblat purchased the artwork prior to Groën-Nitzschke’s death. Lee appealed the judgment, maintaining that her sisters stole and illegally sold the artwork.

Nahem filed a countersuit against Lee in New York to clear title to the Calder sculpture and establish his legal ownership of that artwork, alleging that Lee’s actions prevented him from re-selling the artwork. Along with his claim that he is the owner of the artwork, Nahem’s suit contends that, in recent months, Lee has stalked him at art fairs and auctions, screaming that he is a “thief.” Nahem seeks a judgment declaring that the sculpture is his and barring Lee from any contact with him.

Both Lee’s appeal and Nahem’s countersuit are ongoing. Concurrently, Lee recently filed suit in France, beginning French civil proceedings against Royer-Grimbalt, Nahem and Lee’s sisters. HHR Paris is representing Nahem in those proceedings.

The Daily Beast, artnet and ARTnews reported on the matter.

Edward Tyler Nahem is an art dealer and owner of the esteemed Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art gallery in New York. His gallery is internationally recognized for exhibiting Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary artworks.

Dan Weiner represents Nahem in the U.S. proceedings. Sébastien Bonnard represents Nahem in the French proceedings, assisted by Hind Al Aissi.