Nok Sculpture Smashes During Photo Shoot

New York - Art + Auction magazine was blamed in a lawsuit for shattering a 2,630-year-old Nigerian terracotta sculpture beyond repair during a photo shoot last May at a Manhattan collector’s residence. Independent collectors of Art Kabinett social network know that it is often best to let fragile sculptures stay put in the home.

The shoot was in the Tribeca home of Corice Arman, the widow of the French-born artist Arman, who died in 2005.

“They were setting up the shoot and I heard this enormous crash,” Arman said in a telephone interview.

Charles Rosenzweig, her lawyer, said the piece, described in the complaint as a Nok figure, had been appraised after the accident at $300,000.

Arman is seeking that amount, plus interest, from Louise Blouin Media Inc., owner of Art + Auction, according to the complaint filed April 24 in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

While Arman was in another room of the converted pickle factory during the accident, she said she believes the sculpture was being moved from its home next to a fireplace.

Ben Hartley, president of Louise Blouin Media, said the company hadn’t received the complaint and declined to comment on it or the accident. Arman and later Rosenzweig negotiated with Blouin’s insurer, Rosenzweig said.

“There was not a reasonable offer,” the lawyer said, adding that Arman’s insurance didn’t cover the sculpture’s full value.

Arman and her husband acquired the sculpture in the early 1990s, she said in the interview. She declined to say how much they paid. A photographer, assistant and art director at the shoot “were beside themselves with grief,” she said.

An avid collector, Arman said the accident was a first of its kind for her.

The Nok culture appeared in Nigeria around 1000 B.C. and vanished under unknown circumstances around 500 AD in the region of West Africa. This region lies in Northern and Central Nigeria. Its social system is thought to have been highly advanced.

The Nok culture was considered to be the earliest sub-Saharan producer of life-sized Terracotta. It has been suggested that the Nok culture eventually evolved into the later Yoruba Culture of Ife based on similarities seen in the artwork from these two cultures.

The case is Arman v. Louise Blouin Media Inc., 152078/2012, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).