Auction customers asking about the money

It’s been a year since Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan gave final approval to a $512 million agreement that ended a class-action lawsuit. The suit had been brought by buyers and sellers who lost millions of dollars when the Sotheby’s chairman and its chief executive colluded with their counterparts at Christie’s.

However, many of the 130,000 auction house customers who were cheated because of price-fixing by the two auction houses are wondering where the money is, The New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, a Manhattan law firm, has filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan on behalf of three auction house customers who contend that the settlement is unfair, in part because it does not cover transactions overseas, only those in the United States. Until that is resolved, the money cannot be released, the newspaper reported.

The problem is that the lawyers are unable to set a date to argue their case. “The attorneys have not been available,” Anna Vargas, a deputy clerk in the calendar team of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, told the newspaper. “That’s really all I can say.”

But Richard Drubel, a lawyer representing the customers, reportedly said: “I don’t understand that at all. We have been available since December. We call every week to try to get a date, but no results so far.”

Last month Sotheby’s former chairman A. Alfred Taubman was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his role. Diana D. Brooks, Sotheby’s former chief executive, faces six months of house arrest, three years’ probation, and 1,000 hours of community service. Christie’s former chairman, Sir Anthony Tennant, a British citizen, never came to the United States from London to stand trial, and Christopher M. Davidge, Christie’s former chief executive, won immunity from prosecution by cooperating with the United States Justice Department.

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