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Lawsuit Ended Arbus Auction, Lawyer Says

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 10, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

A lawyer for the owner of a group of rare, early prints by the photographer Diane Arbus said on Wednesday that the auction house Phillips de Pury canceled the sale because of concerns about a recent lawsuit filed by a man who claims he was duped out of the prints.

Peter R. Stern, the lawyer for the prints' owner, Bob Langmuir, a Philadelphia book dealer and collector, said the auction house told him that a private sale of the photos — estimated to be worth up to several hundred thousand dollars — was still a possibility. Phillips officials have not returned calls seeking an explanation for the cancellation of the auction, which was to be held on Tuesday. The photographs, from the late 1950s, show performers at Hubert's Dime Museum and Flea Circus, a basement freak show on 42nd Street in Manhattan, where Arbus honed her stark signature style. Mr. Langmuir was sued in federal court in Brooklyn by another collector, Bayo Ogunsanya, who claimed he was unaware of the value of the photographs when he sold them to Mr. Langmuir for $3,500 in 2003. Mr. Stern has argued in court that Mr. Ogunsanya's lawsuit is frivolous.

By Randy Kennedy
For The New York Times

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