Lawsuit Over Missing $1.35M Painting Dropped After Co-Owner's Criminal History Revealed
By Ben Fractenberg and Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN — A claim against an art courier who allegedly lost a $1.35 million painting after drinking too much at an Upper East Side hotel was dropped after it was discovered the painting's co-owner has a criminal history of art theft, several outlets reported Wednesday.
The courier, James Haggerty, claimed he doesn't remember what he did with "Portrait of a Girl" by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot after he took it to the Mark Hotel on East 77th Street to show a buyer last July, one of the owners originally claimed.
The owner, Kristyn Trudgeon, sued Haggerty in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday, but withdrew the claim on Wednesday after the criminal past of the painting's other owner, Thomas Doyle — who hired Haggerty — came to light, according to reports.
Doyle apparently admitted to defrauding the owner of a Degas sculpture in 2007, and sold the stolen property for $225,000. He was recently out of prison on parole, the Post reported.
The Manhattan District Attorney's declined to say whether they're now investigating the loss of the portrait as theft.
Doyle had allegedly hired Haggerty as an agent to help sell the mid-19th century painting. He was supposed to be paid $25,000 after the sale, Business Week reported.
Haggerty reportedly brought the artwork to the Mark Hotel after Doyle and London gallery owner Offer Waterman worked out a deal at Midtown restaurant Rue 57 earlier in the evening.
The lawsuit claimed Haggerty and Waterman had one too many, and that Haggerty stumbled out of the bar at 12:50 a.m. with the painting and returned to his West 67th Street apartment at 2:30 a.m. without it, the suit said. The next day Haggerty broke the news to Doyle and Trudgeon, blaming the booze, the lawsuit said.
A lawyer for Trudgeon said that after learning of Doyle's history as an art thief on Wednesday, she had dropped the suit and was examining her options, the Post reported.