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Alexander Calder’s heirs have accused longtime dealer Klaus G. Perls and his family of fraud. Perls had an excellent reputation during his time as an art dealer.
The New York Times reports that an amended complaint filed by the Calder estate claims that the Perlses kept Calder work and made millions. It also alleges that Perls himself sold fakes of Calder’s work.
Also Perls’ daughter allegedly kept the knowledge secret by paying a former gallery employee $5 million to keep quiet. Any money made by the Perls off Calder was stashed in a Swiss bank account. Katherine Perls counters that Calder also had a Swiss bank account, in which funds from sales were often sent.
Alexander S. C. Rower, Calder’s grandson, said, “[Calder] trusted him completely” and that Rower had long seen Perls and his wife, Amelia, as “a dear aunt and uncle.”
He added, “It’s really kind of heartbreaking that they turned out to be thieves.”
According to Bloomberg, the Calder’s heir’s attorney Nehemiah Glanc said, “It is plain and open that nothing that defendant Katherine Perls and Klaus G. Perls did with respect to the sale of Alexander Calder artworks was honest.”
The Perlses’ attorney, Steven Wolfe, declined comment in regards to the lawsuit. The Perlses have countered the Calders’ claims saying they are time-barred.
The NY Times notes that in court papers, Wolfe described the claims as a “shame and manufactured” and the family was simply fishing with the lawsuit.