Bayo Ogunsanya's lawsuit against Robert Langmuir has been settled out of court. The story broke yesterday in the Maine Antique Digest. While he is not allowed to give any particulars, Ogunsanya states that he will be allowed a percentage of Langmuir's gross sales when the Arbus photos are sold.
This affair drew a lot of controversy last spring. Langmuir bought an initial set of photos from Ogunsanya, followed his hunch, did some research, discovered that they were early Diane Arbus photos of Hubert's Dime Museum and Flea Market freak show in Times Square, then went back to Ogunsanya to buy the rest of the collection. In a sort of dealer's fantasy trifecta, he put the photos up for auction at Phillips, where estimates ranged up to 120k each, a book was published about the adventure, AND a producer was trying to get a movie made with Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing Langmuir.
Ogunsanya raised a ruckus, protesting that he had been robbed. The Phillips auction was pulled the night before the sale, (either because because of the lawsuit, or because Phillips hesitated over the price of the guarantee based on other Arubs results that week), and, sadly, Hoffman snubbed the movie proposal.
Ogunsanya said "It was a case that [Langmuir] couldn't win, and he probably hurt himself by delaying the settling of it, because of the market. Hopefully, he will be selling them for as much as he can get and soon too. But the economy is what it is."
Yes, the economy is what it is. Most readers who weighed in felt that Ogunsanya had had the same chances as Langmuir to do his research, and that it would send a big chill through the antiques and collectibles world if every lucky dealer who stumbled on a big find had to share gains. Well, feel the chill. Or, if you're on the other side of the deal, feel like a lottery winner. Opinions?
Arbus Suit is Settled [Maine Antique Digest]
Man who sold Arubs photos to another dealer says he was cheated of their true value [Here Be Old Things]