Alec Baldwin is claiming that he was tricked into paying $190,000 for a copy of a painting he fell in love with more than 10 years ago.
Baldwin purchased Ross Bleckner’s “Sea and Mirror” in 2010, or so he thought. After searching for the 1996 artwork for some time—and carrying around an image of it in his shoulder bag—he purchased the painting from gallery owner Mary Boone.
“I love this thing so much,” Baldwin said in 2012 at the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, The New York Times reports. “Three months later it was hanging in my house, in my apartment in New York.”
Bleckner, a native New Yorker who grew up in Long Island, was a rising art star in the 1980s and received his own mid-career retrospective by the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum back in 1995. He then began a relationship with Ms Boone, now a prominent art collector, to add to her roster of flourishing artists.
Now, Baldwin is telling The Times that he paid for an alternative version of the painting that he had coveted for so long. He claims that the painting was passed off as the original.
However, Ms Boone’s lawyer Ted Poretz said that Baldwin was aware that the painting he purchased was an alternative. “By the time Alec Baldwin paid for the painting and it was delivered to him, he should not have misunderstood what he purchased,” Poretz said in a statement to The Times.
The original painting sold for $121,000 sold at a Sotheby’s auction and Boone says that she told Baldwin its new owner was seeking $175,000 for the painting.
“The Gallery normally charges ten to twenty percent for this kind of transaction,” Ms Boone wrote in an email, according to The Times. “To make this a friendly deal, we would charge you even less—$190,000. I know Ross is so thrilled for you to have a painting and so am I.”
Baldwin had an expert compare the alternative to the original painting. He even recently met with the Manhattan district attorney’s office but was told there were no grounds for criminal charges in the case.
“The gallery never likes to have unhappy clients,” Poretz continued in his statement. “It has turned cartwheels to try to satisfy Alec Baldwin. It has repeatedly offered Alec Baldwin a full refund, among other things.”
Marion Maneker, the publisher of the Art Market Monitor, seemed to sum up the fiasco between both parties in a quick paragraph.
“You can focus on the machinations of the artist and his dealer or you can marvel at the self-seriousness of the star,” Maneker writes. “Or you could look at the two pictures and argue about who got the better end of the deal, the collector who bought Sotheby’s Bleckner, Baldwin who bought a reworked version or the rest of us who simply went back to our gin and tonics.”