Gallery in liquidation after artwork dispute

Gore gallery ArtSouth has gone into liquidation after a High Court ruling yesterday.

The gallery, owned by Robert Martin, is above the Old Post Cafe in the main street of Gore.

At the hearing, before Associate High Court Judge Osborne, creditors asked for ArtSouth to be put into liquidation and for Mr Martin to be declared bankrupt for failing to pay a sum agreed in previous litigation over artworks.

In 2011, a settlement was reached between ArtSouth and creditors who had bought several paintings by Wanaka artist Makouri Scott through the gallery, the court was told. The agreement was for ArtSouth to buy back one painting, Parihaka Diptych, for $282,000.

ArtSouth and Mr Martin had not paid the $282,000, and the creditors now sought his bankruptcy and the liquidation of the company, Judge Osborne said. Mr Martin's lawyer, Ben Nettleton, argued that the painting, which was still in possession of the creditors, was security against the money owed.

Mr Martin maintained the painting was worth $300,000, but Judge Osborne said there was no proof of this and there was no evidence from an independent professional art valuer to support the claim.

"The artwork does not come close to the judgment sum. I find that bare assertion (that it was worth $300,000) to be entirely unsatisfactory."

Judge Osborne said another valuation said the work was worth less than $10,000.

He put ArtSouth into liquidation and ordered adjudication on Mr Martin's bankruptcy.

Mr Martin said his lawyer believed there were serious questions about the painting's valuation and he would continue to fight the case.

The Southland Times