A hot artist whose work is collected by Jay-Z and Beyoncé, as well as Drake, is being sued by a gallery that says it discovered him for allegedly reneging on a deal to deliver 20 pieces of art.
The Robert Blumenthal Gallery is suing artist Derek Fordjour for $1.45 million, according to court documents filed in New York this week. The gallery claims it visited Fordjour’s studio in 2014 when the artist was a struggling MFA student at Hunter College and reached an agreement to pre-pay him $20,000 for 20 works of art.
“Blumenthal recognized that Fordjour possessed an artistic vision and that he could become a successful artist. Blumenthal set out to foster Fordjour’s career, providing gallery representation and financial support,” the suit says.
But, “Over several years, Fordjour eventually delivered 13 of the 20 works of art but he has failed and refused to deliver the balance of the artwork despite repeated requests that he do so,” the papers claim. The suit says that Fordjour has gone on to major success — with work selling for as much as $250,000 — in museums including the Whitney.
The suit also claims that Blumenthal helped Fordjour by loaning him money, and mounting exhibitions to display his work.
The suit was filed by attorney Mark Seidenfeld for Blumenthal, and the gallerist told us in a statement, “I didn’t want to commence legal action against Derek, but I have no choice because the statute of limitations on our contract runs out on July 2. I prepaid for 20 works six years ago, and it’s his responsibility to honor our agreement and deliver the remaining seven pieces.”
Fordjour and his current reps at New York’s Petzel Gallery did not get back to us.
Last year, Jay-Z and Beyonce reportedly snapped up a Fordjour work called, “Top-Ten ALLSTARS” for $200,000 at art fair Frieze New York.