A piece by pop art legend Andy Warhol is caught in the middle of a legal dispute between an investment firm in Broomfield and a construction company from Massachusetts.
Big Blue Construction alleged in Denver District Court on Monday that it loaned $100,000 to Broomfield investment firm Evolution Ventures late last year. In exchange, Evolution allegedly promised to repay the money, along with an additional $75,000, by Feb. 1.
As collateral for the loan, Evolution owner Jonathan Cooper used Andy Warhol’s Moonwalk Trial Proof #47, the lawsuit claims. The artwork is estimated to be worth $365,000, since that’s what Cooper last paid for it, according to Big Blue.
The construction company alleges Cooper and Evolution Ventures haven’t paid back the loan and have ignored Big Blue’s communications for more than a month. As a result, Big Blue wants a Denver judge to give it the Warhol piece — which it believes is in Cooper’s 9,000-square-foot house in Broomfield — and also order Evolution Ventures to pay the money it owes.
“Evolution Ventures’ and Cooper’s promises must be enforced to prevent injustice,” Big Blue’s attorneys wrote in their lawsuit.
Reached by email, Cooper said he and his company have not been served the lawsuit. As a result, he declined to comment. Cooper also claimed he has never heard of Big Blue Construction.
Trial proofs are drafts that allow an artist to try different compositions and color combinations before deciding which to use for the final work. Just before his death in 1987 at the age of 58, Warhol created 160 Moonwalk trial proofs, according to the Guy Hepner art gallery in New York.
“Warhol’s Moonwalk explores the overlapping boundaries of time,” the gallery’s website states. “The translucent colors capture your gaze in classic Warhol fashion. No other artist can transform man’s first steps on the moon and turn it into a screenshot from a movie.”
Warhol contacted NASA in early 1987 and obtained a copy of the famous photo Neil Armstrong took of Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969. He then created the trial proofs — each 38 inches tall and 38 inches wide — before dying unexpectedly on Feb. 22 of that year, according to Hamilton-Selway, an art gallery in Hollywood that specializes in Warhols.
“Not having been seen by the world at large until after his death,” its website claims, “leaves Moonwalk as a final, silent, uncommented-upon testament to an artist and his eye for translating that which already moves us into something that moves us in a completely different way.”
Big Blue is represented by attorney Kyler Burgi with the Denver firm Davis, Graham & Stubbs.