Museum Boutique Intercontinental, Ltd. v. Picasso, No. 93 Civ. 6119 (SAS).

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Citation886 F. Supp. 1155
Docket NumberNo. 93 Civ. 6119 (SAS).
PartiesMUSEUM BOUTIQUE INTERCONTINENTAL, LTD., Plaintiff, v. Claude PICASSO, Paloma Picasso, Societe de la Propriete Artistique et des Dessins et Modeles, Succession Picasso, Defendants.
Decision Date02 June 1995

886 F. Supp. 1155

MUSEUM BOUTIQUE INTERCONTINENTAL, LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
Claude PICASSO, Paloma Picasso, Societe de la Propriete Artistique et des Dessins et Modeles, Succession Picasso, Defendants.

No. 93 Civ. 6119 (SAS).

United States District Court, S.D. New York.

June 2, 1995.


886 F. Supp. 1156

Hugh C. Hansen, Gerald M. Levine, Calotta Levine Samuel & Schreiber, New York City, for plaintiff Museum Boutique Intercontinental, Ltd. ("MBI").

Dorothy M. Weber, Peter S. Shukat, Shukat Arrow Hafer & Weber, L.L.P., New York City, for defendants Claude Picasso and Societe de la Propriete Artistique et des Dessins et Modeles ("SPADEM").

William J. Schwartz, Kronish, Lieb, Weiner & Hellman L.L.P., New York City, for defendant Paloma Picasso.

OPINION

SCHEINDLIN, District Judge.

Defendant Paloma Picasso ("Paloma") moves, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), to dismiss all counts against her in the Second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Museum Boutique Intercontinental, LTD. ("MBI").1 For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.2

BACKGROUND

The full background to this case is set forth in the Court's February 1, 1995 Opinion and Order. However, a brief summary is necessary in order to understand the context of the present motion. MBI is a New York corporation which creates and licenses artistic designs incorporating images from famous works of art, including works by Pablo Picasso. Pablo Picasso, of course, is one of the most famous artists of the twentieth century who created more than one hundred thousand works of art prior to his death in 1973. Paloma Picasso is the daughter and one of the heirs of Pablo Picasso.3

After Pablo Picasso's death, his actual works of art were divided among his heirs. However, the reproduction rights in the works remained in the Picasso Estate, or Succession Picasso, as the joint property of the heirs. Under French law, this joint property is known as the indivision successorale ("indivision"), and the joint ownership of the reproduction rights continues in effect until the heirs individually opt out or become subject, either through agreement among themselves or court decision, to a division, or partage, of the property. See Affidavit of Professor George A. Bermann, ("Bermann Aff."), dated March 31, 1995 at ¶¶ 9-10.4 In 1976, the heirs and the Societe de la Propriete Artistique et des Dessins et Modeles ("SPADEM") entered into an agreement

886 F. Supp. 1157
which granted SPADEM the right to administer, manage and exploit the Picasso name, image and likeness in connection with reproductions of Picasso artwork.5 In 1989, a French court appointed Claude Picasso Administrator of the Indivision in order to facilitate the management of the reproduction rights. Id. at ¶ 12. The French court also authorized Claude to contract with SPADEM to assist him in commercially exploiting Pablo Picasso's works. Id. at ¶ 18

In 1980, MBI allegedly acquired exclusive licenses to reproduce certain Picasso paintings and create derivative works incorporating these images.6 However, these licenses were the almost immediate subject of dispute between MBI and Jackie Fine Arts and the Picasso Estate, and the Picasso Estate brought suit in New York Supreme Court to establish the rights of the parties in the images and associated copyrights. The lawsuit was settled in 1980 by an agreement between the parties which essentially gave MBI the continued right to exploit and reproduce certain Picasso images, subject to the oversight of the Picasso heirs. See MBI v. Claude Picasso, et al., 880 F.Supp. 153, 157-58 (S.D.N.Y.1995). During the ensuing decade, the parties continued to dispute, threaten litigation, and negotiate settlements of various issues arising in connection with the exploitation of the reproduction rights. In 1993, MBI brought this suit against the named defendants.7

In its Second Amended Complaint, MBI claims that defendants SPADEM, Claude Picasso, and Succession Picasso have infringed MBI's exclusive rights in the Picasso works and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to bar these defendants from making any infringing use of those works. See Second Amended Complaint at Counts One and Two. In addition, MBI alleges that the defendants have engaged in false designations of origin by using MBI derivative works (Count Four); trade secret misappropriation (Count Five); conduct constituting promissory estoppel (Count Six); intentional interference with contractual relations with MBI's Japanese manufacturers and distributors (Counts Seven and Eight); breach of contract (Count Nine); unjust enrichment (Count Ten); deceptive acts and practices (Count Eleven); unfair competition (Count Twelve); and defamation and trade disparagement (Count Thirteen). With the exception of Count Seven, the only actions alleged in the Complaint are actions taken by SPADEM, Succession Picasso, or Claude Picasso in connection with the indivision.

Count Seven of the Second Amended Complaint claims defendants tortiously interfered with MBI's contractual relations and is the only count which contains claims against Paloma in her personal capacity. In its proposed Count Seven,8 MBI alleges that it had valid license agreements with the Japanese companies Nayoya Mitsukoshi Ltd. ("Mitsukoshi") and INFAS Co., Ltd. ("INFAS") to sell MBI derivative works and reproductions of Picasso works of art. Proposed Count Seven at ¶ 183. MBI also claims that SPADEM, Claude and Paloma Picasso had actual knowledge of these agreements and that these defendants falsely advised Mitsukoshi

886 F. Supp. 1158
and INFAS that MBI had no right to license or sell MBI derivative works of art in order to induce a breach of the licensing agreements. Id. at ¶¶ 184-185. Specifically, Paloma is alleged to have falsely advised Mitsukoshi and INFAS on June 28, 1991 that they had acquired rights from MBI "who actually has no power to grant them," and that Paloma "continued to make such statements up until MBI was coerced and induced into terminating its contracts with Mitsukoshi and INFAS in 1993." Id. at ¶ 186

In addition, MBI claims that Paloma's statements made MBI, INFAS, and Mitsukoshi's "performance more difficult and lessened each party's enjoyment of the contract." Id. at ¶ 187. Specifically,

Mitsukoshi and INFAS lost faith in MBI and sought continuous reassurance from MBI. Mitsukoshi was forced to fly two million dollars of its prototypes to New York for a product review. MBI spent many working hours trying to assure Mitsukoshi and INFAS that it had the rights to license these goods and in contact with Claude Picasso and SPADEM to make sure that they would not sue MBI's agents and licensees.

Id. Claude Picasso also sought the termination of the Mitsukoshi and INFAS contracts as part of the Global License Agreement that he was negotiating with MBI.9 Id. at ¶ 189. Finally, MBI alleges that Paloma and Claude's actions drove MBI to seek the Global Licensing Agreement and subsequently caused MBI to terminate its contracts with Mitsukoshi and INFAS. Id. at ¶ 189-90.

DISCUSSION

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must presume all material factual allegations in the complaint to be true and must construe all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Paulemon v. Tobin, 30 F.3d 307, 308 (2d Cir.1994). The complaint may be dismissed only if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Id. at 309 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)).

Paloma argues that the complaint should be dismissed for two reasons. First, she claims that in every count except Count Seven she is sued solely in her capacity as a Picasso heir for the acts of Claude Picasso as Administrator of the Succession Picasso and for the acts of SPADEM as the Administrator's agent. Under French law, Paloma argues that an heir is not amenable to suit for any act alleged to have been taken by the Administrator in connection with the exploitation of Picasso reproduction rights. Second, Paloma claims that Count Seven — the only count in which Paloma is sued in her personal capacity — fails to state a claim for tortious interference with contract under New York law.

A. Paloma's Capacity To Be Sued As A Picasso Heir

Both parties agree that in every count except Count Seven, Paloma is not sued in her personal capacity. See Paloma Picasso's Memorandum of Law ("Paloma Mem.") at p. 3; MBI's Memorandum of Law ("MBI Mem.") at p. 2. No count in the Second Amended Complaint other than Count Seven refers to or alleges facts involving Paloma; rather, in eleven of twelve remaining counts Paloma is sued solely because of her status as a Picasso heir for the acts of Claude Picasso as Administrator of the indivision and SPADEM as the Administrator's agent.10 However, the parties disagree about whether i) New York or French law

886 F. Supp. 1159
should be used to determine if Paloma can be sued as a Picasso heir, and ii) Paloma can be sued as an heir under New York or French law

MBI argues that under Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b), the law of the state in which this Court sits must be used to determine whether Paloma may be sued in her capacity as an heir. Rule 17(b) provides in relevant part:

Capacity to Sue or be Sued. The capacity of an individual, other than one acting in a representative capacity, to sue or be sued shall be determined by the law of the individual's domicile ... In all other cases, capacity to sue or be sued shall be determined by the law of the state in which the district court is held, ...

MBI argues that because Paloma is being sued in a representative capacity, Rule 17(b) requires that New York law be applied to determine her capacity to be sued in this Court. By its terms, however, Rule 17(b) mandates that this Court apply New York law only if Paloma is actually acting in a representative capacity. Paloma...

To continue reading

Request your trial
15 practice notes
  • Baumgardner v. Bimbo Food Bakeries Distribution, Inc., Case No. 5:09-CV-1613.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • March 2, 2010
    ...with contract without actually alleging that the third party breached its contract."); Museum Boutique Intercontinental v. Picasso, 886 F.Supp. 1155, 1163 (S.D.N.Y.1995) (Scheindlin, J.) ("Kronos suggests that ... an allegation of breach is not an absolute prerequisite for the tort .... If ......
  • Union Carbide Corp. v. Montell N.V., No. 95 Civ. 0134 (SAS).
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 30, 1996
    ...or otherwise render performance impossible." Shell/Montell Mem. at 18-19 (citing Museum Boutique Intercontinental, Ltd. v. Picasso, 886 F.Supp. 1155, 1161 (S.D.N.Y.1995)). However, as Museum Boutique makes clear, while a number of New York courts (as well as federal courts in New York inter......
  • Michele Pommier Models v. Men Women Ny Model, No. 97 Civ. 6837 (SAS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 8, 1998
    ...See Enercomp, Inc., v. McCorhill Publishing Inc., 873 F.2d 536, 541 (2d Cir.1989); Museum Boutique Intercontinental, Ltd. v. Picasso, 886 F.Supp. 1155, 1161-2 (S.D.N.Y.1995); Click Model Management v. Williams, 167 A.D.2d 279, 561 N.Y.S.2d 781, 782 (1st Dep't 1990) (citing Israel v. Wood Do......
  • D'Andrea v. Rafla-Demetrious, No. 92-CV-2783 (JG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 25, 1996
    ...whether this cause of action requires an actual breach by the third party. Museum Boutique Intercontinental, Ltd. v. Page 249 Picasso, 886 F.Supp. 1155, 1162 (S.D.N.Y. 1995). Relying on the Second Circuit's holding in Enercomp, Inc. v. McCorhill Publishing, Inc., 873 F.2d 536 (2d Cir.1989),......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Baumgardner v. Bimbo Food Bakeries Distribution, Inc., Case No. 5:09-CV-1613.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • March 2, 2010
    ...with contract without actually alleging that the third party breached its contract."); Museum Boutique Intercontinental v. Picasso, 886 F.Supp. 1155, 1163 (S.D.N.Y.1995) (Scheindlin, J.) ("Kronos suggests that ... an allegation of breach is not an absolute prerequisite for the tort .... If ......
  • Union Carbide Corp. v. Montell N.V., No. 95 Civ. 0134 (SAS).
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 30, 1996
    ...or otherwise render performance impossible." Shell/Montell Mem. at 18-19 (citing Museum Boutique Intercontinental, Ltd. v. Picasso, 886 F.Supp. 1155, 1161 (S.D.N.Y.1995)). However, as Museum Boutique makes clear, while a number of New York courts (as well as federal courts in New York inter......
  • Michele Pommier Models v. Men Women Ny Model, No. 97 Civ. 6837 (SAS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 8, 1998
    ...See Enercomp, Inc., v. McCorhill Publishing Inc., 873 F.2d 536, 541 (2d Cir.1989); Museum Boutique Intercontinental, Ltd. v. Picasso, 886 F.Supp. 1155, 1161-2 (S.D.N.Y.1995); Click Model Management v. Williams, 167 A.D.2d 279, 561 N.Y.S.2d 781, 782 (1st Dep't 1990) (citing Israel v. Wood Do......
  • D'Andrea v. Rafla-Demetrious, No. 92-CV-2783 (JG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 25, 1996
    ...whether this cause of action requires an actual breach by the third party. Museum Boutique Intercontinental, Ltd. v. Page 249 Picasso, 886 F.Supp. 1155, 1162 (S.D.N.Y. 1995). Relying on the Second Circuit's holding in Enercomp, Inc. v. McCorhill Publishing, Inc., 873 F.2d 536 (2d Cir.1989),......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT