U.S. Marshals Crash Miami's Biggest Painting Party

Just before Art Basel's VIP reception, officials sezied $6 million in art

Naomi Campbell wasn't the only one looking for art at yesterday's Art Basel V.I.P. opening.

According to Bloomberg, a dozen U.S. Marshals and police officers seized paintings by Fernand Leger, Joan Miro, Edgar Degas and Yves Klein from Galerie Gmurzynska's booth just before the art crowd descended on the Miami Beach Convention Center to sip bubbly and wax artistic.

The seizure was in reaction to an insurance dispute between two galleries over a damaged painting. In July, Edelman Arts Inc. and XL Specialty Insurance filed a lawsuit claiming that in 2007, a work by Robert Ryman that was given to Galerie Gmurzynska on consignment at Art Basel Miami Beach was sent back with a "deep indentation" or "gouge."

The judgment was to the plaintiff for about $765,000, but the art seized yesterday is said to clock in at more than $6 mil, which Edelman, who was along for the seizure to assess value and is also showing works on the mainland at Art Miami, said was standard for the amount confiscated for auction.

We're just thankful it was the Degas, and not a work by Sylvester Stallone, who was also showing in the Gmurzynska space. The droopy-eyed actor even sold a couple, priced at between $40,000 and $50,000, which we believe made more than "Judge Dredd" and "Cop Land" combined.

As for Galerie Gmurzynska, the gallery says the whole incident was a surprise to them, according to their lawyer, Peter R. Stern.

"Edelman Arts, unbeknownst to the gallery, obtained a default judgment against my client without warning," Stern told Bloomberg. "The marshals appeared. The gallery is attempting to clarify the matter."

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