Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Berry-Hill Premises: On and Off the Market?

In what it called "a court supervised sale," Stribling & Associates recently offered the East 70th Street premises of Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, for $20 million, with bids due June 15.

Linda Melnick, vice president at Stribling, told me yesterday that the auction had been postponed (with a new date to be set), "to give people more time to do due diligence." The offering price, she said, would remain the same.

But James Berry Hill, one of the gallery's directors, told me a couple of hours later that "we've cancelled the auction. The property is not for sale." Best known for selling blue-chip American art, Berry-Hill intends to continue doing business at its current location, he asserted. But at this writing, the property is still being offered on Stribling's website.

The gallery filed for bankruptcy in December, in the wake of lawsuits from creditors and allegations of biding irregularities at an auction at Christie's on May 19, 2005.

James Berry Hill, in a phone interview, ominously warned me that much that has been written about his gallery is "inaccurate," and that if I repeated such falsehoods, I would "join the group and suffer the consequences. Our counsel will be aggressive in going after those who have mistaken the case....Write whatever you want, at your peril."

He added that his gallery is settling claims against it "so that nobody is harmed," but he refused to discuss the details or to say anything about what he felt were inaccuracies in other published accounts .

CultureGrrl pointed out, towards the end of the interview, that although the dealer was threatening me with a libel suit, he was refusing to discuss what was accurate and what was not.

Where's Floyd Abrams when I need him? Wait a minute: Abrams, Berry Hill and CultureGrrl all went to Cornell University as undergrads. Maybe we should hold a reunion!

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