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Robert Indiana, the artist known for his block letter "LOVE" design, was sued by an art dealer for renouncing the authenticity of sculptures priced around $1 million.
In 2008, Joao Tovar paid over $480,000 for 10 sculptures of the word PREM, which means love in Hindi, from John Gilbert, a former partner of Indiana. Tovar purchased them believing that Indiana licensed their production.
However, Indiana, 83, renounced them in 2009 with a letter to dealer Simon Salama-Caro. The letter stated that the sculptures were conceived by Gilbert and made without permission. As a result, the auction house Christie’s removed them from an upcoming sale.
An April 19 settlement between Gilbert and Indiana stated that Gilbert is barred from saying he has any contractual, commercial, business or artistic relationship with Indiana’s works.
Tovar’s suit, which was filed April 30 in Maine, states that Indiana’s denial of approval renders the sculptures he now owns worthless.
He is seeking unspecified damages for breach of contract, product disparagement, unjust enrichment and misrepresentation.
His previous federal lawsuit against Indiana was filed in November but was dismissed because the judge, U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts, said she did not have jurisdiction in the case.
Indiana’s famous 1964 "LOVE" sculpture became a symbol of the decade’s anti-war movement.