Shipboard art auctions

A Southfield, Mich. company named Park West has made a big business of conducting art auctions on cruise ships offshore, while leaving more than a few dissatisfied customers in its wake. Fine Art Registry, a subscriber website founded by Theresa Franks, has published some of those customer complaints as well as original articles warning of Park West’s practices. “In April the company sued Ms. Franks; Fine Art Registry’s lead writer, David Phillips; and a Dalí specialist that the site quoted, Bruce Hochman, for defamation.” And as so often proves to be the case when a business reacts to criticism by suing its critics, the suit has if anything stimulated further press curiosity about the business’s practices. (Jori Finkel, “Art Auctions on Cruise Ships Lead to Anger, Accusations and Lawsuits”, New York Times, Jul. 16). More: Donn Zaretsky, Art Law Blog.


  • In California, such defamation suits are probably prohibited by CA’s SLAPP law. Is it time that other states adopt similar statutes?

  • I don’t think that suit would be a SLAPP suit. Mr. Hochman asserted that the sold items are inauthentic, and the other defendants published his remarks.
    If false, those remarks are defamatory.