Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Miami Trump Palace Sued Due to Cleaning Crew Art Destruction

One resident of the Trump Palace tower in Miami, Florida, has filed a lawsuit against the condo tower. However, unlike most lawsuits these days against a Trump entity, there's nothing political about this one. The case is due to a cleaning crew that threw away 15 paintings, which were worth approximately $80,000.

According to one report, the plaintiff, Ronny Lustigman, is an art dealer and collector. Last year, he had the paintings delivered to his condo. Rather than store the paintings inside his unit, the paintings were stored in a hallway where residents often store items. Unfortunately, the cleaning crew allegedly mistook the paintings for garbage and hauled them away. Sadly, it's reported that Lustigman only recovered one of the paintings, since, luckily, the driver of the garbage truck saw the paintings and took one home. The rest were hauled away. Presently, it is unknown what became of the other 14 works.

Destruction of Art

Although art collectors rarely garner the sympathy of everyday folk when their valuable collections are destroyed, Lustigman appears to have a valid legal claim. His case against the cleaning crew and condo tower alleges that he was never notified about the paintings' removal, and that the cleaning crew failed to exercise reasonable care.

Generally, when an individual's property is destroyed, damaged, or otherwise taken away by another person without compensation, the deprived individual is entitled to compensation for their loss. Under the law, usually, a person will be entitled to receive the fair market value of their lost property, or the difference in price between the fair market value and the current value (if the property is retained, but damaged or destroyed).

When it comes to works of art, values may be difficult to assess. For art collectors, this can be rather frustrating as a collector's price or valuation can often be above fair market value. This can result in the owner of a work of art being awarded, by a court of law, an amount for their property's destruction that is less than what they paid.

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