Private Equity Exec. Keeps Painting After Controversial Sale

Mar 22 2013 | 10:56am ET

Private equity executive Thompson Dean will get to keep a Roy Lichtenstein painting he bought from a prominent gallery, which allegedly sold it without the previous owner's permission.

Avista Capital Partners' Dean bought the painting from the Gagosian Gallery for $2 million, which was below market value. But the previous owner, Jan Cowles, said that the painting, "Girl in Mirror," had been transferred to the gallery for sale by her son without her knowledge, and that Gagosian later lied and said the painting had been damaged to justify the low price.

Dean and Gagosian have a long-standing relationship. Gagosian earned a $1 million commission on the sale.

Cowles has now settled with Gagosian. Terms were not disclosed, but Dean won't have to return his Lichtenstein.

"Mrs. Cowles and Gagosian Gallery have reached a settlement," Cowles' lawyer, David Baum, told Art+Auction. "The terms of the settlement are confidential, but we can confirm that Tom Dean may keep the painting, and is now acknowledged as its owner."

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