The Court of Appeals, New York state’s highest court, handed down its decision on December 17 in the matter of the William J. Jenack auction firm vs. bidder Albert Rabizadeh.
Jenack had appealed a decision by a lower appeals court that Rabizadeh’s winning $400,000 bid for a Russian silver box should be voided because the name of the consignor was not divulged in any paperwork given him.
The Court of Appeals ruled: “Here, the clerking sheet lists Jenack as the auctioneer, and as such it served as the agent of the seller. The clerking sheet, therefore, provides ‘the name of the person on whose account the sale was made’...He then successfully won the bidding for item 193, closing out other interested bidders, with his $400,000 bid.”
Rabizadeh had based his action on a regulation within the Statute of Frauds that required the seller to be named, but the court stated, “The Statute of Frauds was not enacted to afford persons a means of evading just obligations.”
A first reading of the decision leads to the conclusion that the court agreed that while Rabizadeh was correct in pointing out that the law did require the naming of the owner, it also concluded that Rabizadeh “cannot seek to avoid the consequences of his actions by ignoring the existence of a documentary trail leading to him.”
We’ll have much more on this closely watched verdict in our next issue.