To quote the late great football play by play radio announcer, the voice of the Georgia Bulldogs, Larry Munson “get the picture”. February 1964. A cold day in Goteborg, Sweden. Art connoisseurs are enjoying the opening of a new art exhibition inside the warm halls of a gallery. The new works of artists from several countries were on display. Of particular interest were the works of an up -and- coming young French artist named Pierre Brassau.
Many art critics were enthralled by the Brassau works of modern art. An art critic for a major Swedish newspaper was particularly effusive writing “Pierre Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer”. Indeed, the art show was a triumph for the cutting- edge artist. Yet even geniuses have critics. Swimming against the tide of adoration, one dissenting art critic opined that the blobs of ink splattered on the Brassau canvases could only be the work of an ape.
It turns out that Pierre was actually named Peter. A Swedish journalist who was not a fan of modern art had Peter create the paintings. Peter was paid in bananas. The more bananas he ate the faster and more furious his strokes became. You see, in actuality, Peter was a chimpanzee. His patron was testing his theory that most of the modern art critics in his area would not be able to differentiate the work of a man from a monkey. He proved his point, much to the embarrassment of many of the learned critics he was trolling. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in my opinion, Peter was more talented than many humans who hold themselves out as modern artists.
This was a harmless hoax and must have been quite fun. However, when intentional misrepresentations are made that cause another damage such actions can be actionable under the law. For purposes of this piece, I will solely focus on civil fraud and not address it in the criminal context. Generally speaking, in Georgia the elements of civil fraud are: A misrepresentation was made. The person making the misrepresentation knew it to be false at the time they made it. The misrepresentation was made to induce another to act or refrain from acting. Another person justifiably relied on such misrepresentation, took action and suffered damages. Fraud differs from a mere breach of contract as additional exemplary damages may be awarded if fraud is proven.
A critical element in proving civil fraud is intent. An honest mistake does not constitute fraud whereas an intentional misrepresentation does. Classic examples include selling counterfeit named brand products the seller knows are fake, representing goods as being new or undamaged when the seller knows otherwise and representing livestock as being healthy when the seller knows the livestock is very ill. Regrettably, the variety of different types of fraud seems almost infinite. There is no shortage of devious minds in this world. Buyers should beware and conduct due diligence in their dealings and include special stipulations in their contracts allowing them to do the same. Honest sellers are wise to craft disclaimers in selling documents to ensure that any lack of information they have on an item cannot be construed as a fraudulent misrepresentation by a buyer. In both scenarios, lawyers can assist. Failure to do so can cost you a lot of bananas. When you need help with legal matters, call the one you can trust. Contact Chris today … click here.