The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which manages the artist’s estate, claims however that the painting was stolen.
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The organization filed a lawsuit on Friday (Oct. 24) to reclaim the painting and won a temporary restraining order yesterday (Oct. 27) to block its sale.
The former bodyguard, Agusto Bugarin, claimed through his attorney that Warhol gave him the painting for work he did renovating the apartment of one of Warhol’s lovers Jon Gould, after he ended his relationship with Jed Johnson.
Henry Welt, who represents Bugarin, said in an interview with Courthouse News Service that his client “emphatically denies” stealing the painting.
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In the foundation’s lawsuit it charged that “Bugarin is a patient thief, but a thief nonetheless.”
The suit alleges Bugarin hid the painting until anyone who could “challenge his ownership of the work had died. ” He reportedly consigned the work to Taglialatella Galleries in Chelsea for sale.
The painting is now expected to fetch at least $20 million, according to The New York Daily News.
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At the time, Bugarin allegedly received the painting it would have been worth several hundred thousand dollars, according to the Foundation.
Warhol died in 1987 and purportedly gave the painting to Bugarin in 1984. But the foundation notes that was several years after the artist had broken up with Johnson.
The painting’s theft was never reported, according to Welt.
“Bugarin’s latest excuses are just as frivolous as his contradictory story about how he acquired the work,” the Foundadtion’s lawyer Luke Nikas told CNS in an email.
New York County Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern, who signed the restraining order has scheduled a Nov. 5 hearing to hear arguments.