Bayo Ogunsanya has asked Brooklyn Federal Court to block an auction of Diane Arbus photos at Phillips de Pury next month. Ogunsanya sold the photos for $3,500 to Robert Langmuir but was alerted to their true value by an article about their exhibit in the New York Times. He now complains that he was scammed.
"He was morally bound to give me a fair price especially since he had more knowledge [about the photos] than I did," Ogunsanya said.
Hear that? It's the sound of dealers across the land gasping. Buying low from the unsuspecting and chuckling all the way to the bank–that's the job description!
Ogunsanya, who collects African-Americana, bought a trunk full of the unclaimed photos from a Bronx storage facility in 2002, and now says he feels victimized. He claims Langmuir promised to give him more money if the photos turned out to be "worth more than you and I think they are."
They are a worth a whole lot more than $3,500. Picturing Hubert's Dime Museum and Flea Circus in Times Square in the 50s, the photos can be previewed on the Phillips de Pury website. There are 28 lots ranging in estimated price from 20,000–120,000. The photo above is estimated at 70,000-90,000.
While some may protest that Ogunsanya should have done his homework, I
think most of us have experienced the sick feeling of realizing too
late the value of a piece we've sold too cheaply. Imagine your worst
mistake. Now add a few zeros and a really sweet retirement to the total . . . that hurts.
Dealer 'lost out' on lost Diane Arbus art [Daily News]
NYC man says he was conned into selling Arbus photos cheap [newsday.com]
Art Collector Feels "Victimized" After Selling Arbus Photos [Artinfo]