Case Study

International Art Fraud – Trial and Appellate Success on a Budget

International Art Dealer Defeats Breach of Contract and Fraud Claims


Our client was a fine art consultant who provided advisory services regarding the purchase and sale of renowned paintings, sculptures and other works of art. The consultant, through his solely owned entity, facilitated the sale of four well-known paintings owned by Edemar Ferreira, the former president and founder of Brazil’s Banco Santos, to a New York art dealer. Approximately two years following the sale, the paintings were subject to seizures and inquiries by Brazilian, British, U.S. and Swedish authorities investigating a global money laundering and smuggling scheme involving Ferreira. Shortly thereafter, the consultant’s company folded. In an attempt to recoup its losses, the purchaser pursued the consultant, personally, for approximately $1.5 million on claims that included breach of contract and fraud. However, the consultant no longer had a viable business and was essentially broke.

Solution and Result

The Trachtenberg Rodes & Friedberg team successfully defended the consultant. Sensitive to our client’s financial condition, we efficiently defeated the New York art dealer at trial and on appeal by disputing the dealer’s claims and corporate-veil-piercing theories and presenting evidence, including extensive financial records and accountant testimony, that demonstrated that the consultant did not commit fraud and was not the alter ego of his solely owned entity.