Home Arts New York councilor Lisa Schiff reportedly shuts down amid $2million client lawsuit

New York councilor Lisa Schiff reportedly shuts down amid $2million client lawsuit

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Prominent art adviser Lisa Schiff is said to have closed her business, SFA Advisory, after long-time clients accused her of using sales proceeds to defraud them as part of a deception scheme that was allegedly operated through its businesses.

Collector Candace Carmel Barasch and attorney Richard Grossman filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court on May 11, claiming Schiff failed to pay them $1.8 million she owed after negotiating the sale of a painting at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Court documents list five counts of breach of contract, conversion, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy.

Tuesday (May 16), art news reported that SFA Advisory’s Tribeca storefront appeared to have closed. Multiple attempts to reach Schiff and his attorney John Cahill went unanswered.

“Schiff and his companies effectively operated a Ponzi scheme, taking funds, accounts and works of art entrusted to them by clients, and using them and the proceeds of their sale, on information and conviction, to fund Schiff’s lavish lifestyle,” the lawsuit reads. These personal expenses, he continues, include “an apartment in New York rented at $25,000 per month, first-class international travel with concierge services and limousine services, including vacations in five-star hotels, shopping sprees in New York and Europe for designer clothes and jewelry. , private school tuition for her child, among other things, and to make payments due to other customers of Schiff and its businesses.”

Schiff and its companies Schiff Fine Art and SFA Consulting are named defendants, as well as ten defendants of unknown identity.

Schiff’s Tribeca space, SFA Advisory, was closed on May 17 and a sign in the door announced the cancellation of a scheduled event The arts journal

The dispute revolves around the 2019 table uncle 3 by Adrian Ghenie, which Schiff brought to Barasch’s attention as a potential buy in April 2021. Barasch co-purchased it with Grossman and his wife, with Barasch acquiring a 50% share and the latter two a 25% stake % each. In December 2022, the three owners, in a deal brokered by Schiff, resold the work through Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $2.5 million. The lawsuit says they entered into an oral agreement under which Schiff was to receive a commission of 10% of the net purchase price, ultimately equal to $250,000. Sotheby’s declined to comment.

In January, Schiff sent Barasch and Grossman $225,000 each, allegedly promising that the remaining sales proceeds, totaling $1.8 million, would arrive on March 26. She then asked for a one-month extension, saying it was “an accommodation for buyers in Hong Kong,” the lawsuit says, and then a further two-week postponement.

On May 8, when the payment was due, Grossman’s wife reportedly confronted Schiff about the missing money only to be told she didn’t have it and call her attorney. Subsequent communications with Schiff’s attorney “have indicated that Schiff cannot pay the funds owed…and that is actually just the tip of the iceberg,” the lawsuit states. “The plaintiffs are now the victims of the latest art swindler, for which they are compelled to seek redress from the Court.”

Both Grossman and Barasch have known Schiff for nearly two decades and consider his family as well as a trusted advisor, they say. Barasch, who credited Schiff with helping her make “informed decisions,” also says she received a phone call from Los Angeles dealer David Kordansky last summer to follow up on a payment for a work she purchased through Schiff. “Based on information that the plaintiffs recently learned, the defendants’ failure to timely pay the Kordansky Gallery was part of the defendants’ scheme to defraud their clients,” the complaint states.

Barasch and Grossman seek a jury trial and seek more than $2 million in damages. Additionally, they claim they owe the $250,000 commission Schiff earned on the sale, plus interest, and are entitled to immediate possession of the painting. His whereabouts are currently unknown to them.

CLARIFICATION: A spokesperson for Sutton confirmed The arts journal that the company is no longer acting as a public relations representative for Lisa Schiff.

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