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Sotheby's Was Sued For Over Ancient Chinese Wine Vessel Now Ye Wins on Conversion Claim

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell Book
BBC-Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN NY Mag

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 24 – Sotheby's agreed to auction of the Zhou Zha Hu, described as an important ritual bronze wine vessel from the 10th Century BC.

  But citing a cloud on title it refused to conduct the auction or, the subsequent legal complaint says, to return the vessel.

On June 6, 2022 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Valerie E. Caproni began an in-person bench trial in the case. Inner City Press went and covered it.  

 Photos of the vessel were shown, and the two phoenixes on it. It was a dowry gif, then its owners became poor, it was said, and wanted to sell it.

The June 6 witness bought it, then arranged to try to auction it. Sales were in cash, up to $600,000.

On July 15, Judge Caproni ruled "The Court is inclined to find the Shanghai Judgment, as submitted as an exhibit to this filing, as admissible pursuant to Rule 902(3) of the Federal Rules of Evidence. But the Court will grant Su and Wang one final opportunity to reply to Yeh's arguments on the admissibility of the Judgment. Any such reply is due no later than Friday, July 22, 2022. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Valerie E. Caproni on 7/15/2022)"

On October 24, Judge Caproni ruled "the Court finds in favor of Yeh on his conversion claim, and his claim for a declaratory judgment is dismissed. Neither party briefed nor made arguments at trial about appropriate remedies in the event that Yeh were to prevail on his conversion claim. At this juncture, the Court declines to make findings of fact and conclusions of law about the appropriate remedies.... the Court encourages the parties to try to settle the issues of remedy and Sotheby's attorneys' fees and costs. By no later than Friday, November 18, 2022, the parties must meet and confer and file a joint report on the prospect of settling the remaining issues in this litigation, including whether the parties would like a referral for a settlement conference with the assigned Magistrate Judge or to the Court-annexed mediation program. If the parties do not wish to pursue settlement, the joint report must include a proposed schedule for supplementary briefing on the issue of remedy, with Yeh to file the opening brief. Although Sotheby's is a disinterested stakeholder on liability, the parties must include whether Sotheby's plans to file a brief on remedies, given its pending motion for fees and costs and its expertise vis--vis the likely market for the Vessel. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Valerie E. Caproni on 10/24/2022)

The case is Su v. Sotheby's Inc., 17-cv-4577 (Caproni) 


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