New U.S. court documents relating to the heated court battle between art advisor Lisa Schiff, who has been accused of fraud and running a Ponzi scheme by two of her former clients Richard Grossman and Candace Barasch, were made public yesterday, August 24. Some 50 new claims against Schiff, as well as a full inventory of works still in her possession, are among the latest revelations to come to light.
The three documents, which were submitted as evidence against Schiff on August 11, were published by the art market newsletter The Baer Faxt this week. They list works in Schiff’s possession and their value, missing art, and outstanding debt complaints from scores of individuals or businesses.
The most shocking document shows that Barasch and Grossman were not Schiff’s only unhappy customers. Around 50 more claims have been made, some worth as much as $1 million. Claimants named include Mira Dimotrova, senior director of Stephen Friedman gallery; David Schrader, head of private sales at Sotheby’s; Maya McLaughlin Art Advisory; and Frestonian Gallery. Grossman is also seeking a further $2.3 million. An undisclosed sum was claimed by the Internal Revenue Service and over $500,000 by American Express.
Another document lists 894 items, with an estimated market value of £3.1 million ($3.9 million) according to appraisers and advisory group Winston Art Group , that are currently in Schiff’s inventory. These include works by Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Michael Craig-Martin, Barbara Kruger, Sterling Ruby, Tracey Emin, and Robert Mapplethorpe, among many others.
Though most of the works are in storage facilities, some are held by galleries Like Gladstone Gallery, High Art Paris, and Bortolami and about 20 are apparently held by Philips auction house. According to the final document, 108 works worth $1.1 million that were assumed to be in the inventory are missing and have “potential third-party claimants.”
reached out to Lisa Schiff’s lawyer with a request for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Schiff is currently facing two lawsuits. The first, filed by her clients and former friends Grossman and Barasch, alleges that she failed to pay the duo $1.8 million ($900,000 each) from the $2.5 million sale of a painting by Adrian Ghenie that she brokered in November 2022. She eventually admitted to them that the money owed was “gone,” and they are now demanding the sum owed, as well as her $250,000 commission, damages, and interest.
It was alleged that Schiff ran a “Ponzi scheme” to fund an extravagant lifestyle, with extensive references to her $25,000 rent in New York, first class international travel, and five-star hotels. Shortly after the complaint was filed, Schiff shut down her SFA Advisory offices in New York’s Tribeca and London’s South Kensington district.
Barasch later filed a second lawsuit accusing Schiff of embezzling $3 million by offering to secure her in-demand paintings and taking the sales commission, taxes, and further fees for crating, shipping, and insurance, before failing to complete the purchase. Fraud, conspiracy, and unjust enrichment were among the many accusations levied at Schiff.
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