The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has dismissed all claims against Swiss art consultancy Artmentum GmbH (Artmentum) and several individual defendants in the matter of ArtAssure Ltd., LLC v. Artmentum GmbH et al., No. 1:14-cv-3756 (LGS). The Court found that Artmentum and the other defendants have insufficient contact with the United States or New York to permit jurisdiction here.
The dispute related to negotiations over the possible sale of a significant collection of fine art in Japan (the Collection). Artmentum and ArtAssure entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on June 29, 2013 to broker the sale of that collection to ArtAssure. ArtAssure was unable, however, despite repeated opportunities, to demonstrate the financial wherewithal to complete the purchase of the Collection. Only after Artmentum took steps to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding pursuant to its terms, ArtAssure began to claim that the entire transaction was “an elaborate, fraudulent scheme.”
Artmentum vehemently denies the allegations of fraud and breach of contract. In addition, Artmentum is Swiss corporation headquartered near Zürich, and the individual defendants are all citizens of either Switzerland, Germany, or the United Kingdom. None does business in the United States generally, and none had contact of legal significance with New York with respect to the transaction at issue. The Memorandum of Understanding also selected Swiss law to govern its interpretation and any disputes.
Accordingly, the Artmentum defendants moved to dismiss the case on July 1, 2014. The court (Hon. Lorna G. Schofield) agreed in a Memorandum and Order dated November 4, 2014 that the defendants do not regularly do business within New York, nor did anything about this transaction bring them within the jurisdiction of the court. The entire case was dismissed and judgment entered for the defendants.