By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
SANDY LAKE — They say that art is in the eye of the beholder.
It’s probably a good thing that a Sandy Lake-area couple is no longer romantically linked as they beheld very different interpretations of a supposed, artwork he – or they – bought at an auction.
He said it’s a valuable painting. She said it’s a print reproduction. A judge or jury could have the final say as he has taken her to court.
Samuel L. Reed, 202 Valley View Road, Mill Creek Township, said in his complaint filed Aug. 1 that he bought the contents of storage units at an auction May 16 at Lakeview Self-Storage, Sandy Lake.
Storage unit 81 contained a clothes dryer, furniture, books, an autographed T-shirt of Olympian Dan Jansen and about 30 paintings and/or prints, said Reed’s ex-girlfriend and the suit’s defendant, Tracey L. Donop, 3341 N. Main St., Sandy Lake. She owns No Thyme Like the Present, a gift shop and consignment store at the same address.
One of those paintings and/or prints in unit 81 was “a valuable painting of a young girl, an original of the artist, Manan,” Reed said.
The work is a nude of a seated young woman, shown from the left side. The artist’s style is similar to the noted French Impressionist Jean Renoir.
Reed’s identification of the artist is suspect. Google searches of “artist Manan” and “painter Manan” turned up no helpful results. Dr. Louis A. Zona. executive director of the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, said he knew of no artist by that name.
“I’m not even sure that’s the proper name,” said Reed’s attorney, Larry J. Puntureri of New Castle. “My client is trying to get an art expert to help him with that.”
Even without a defendable opinion of the artist’s identity, Reed claims the work is worth $100,000, which is the amount he is seeking from Donop.
He said he gave the painting to Donop for the purposes of studying the piece’s worth and background. He said he later learned she sold the painting for $75,000.
Donop said she sold the work for $75.
Reed, who often had items for sale at the consignment shop, “specifically requested that (Donop) sell the merchandise purchased at the auction as he was in need of money,” she said in her answer filed Aug. 23.
She also disputes the ownership of the piece. She said they jointly purchased the storage unit contents at the auction, and she paid Reed $235 for her share, plus $40 so he could buy gasoline.
Reed “would be entitled to one-half of the (sale) amount of the painting, less her 20 percent consignment fee,” she said. She said she has placed $30 in escrow until the suit is resolved.
Puntureri said his client stands behind the claim that the work was an original painting.
“Obviously, he doesn’t have it in his possession,” Puntureri said.