Sprung v. Glenn Horowitz Bookseller

Full title: DENNIS SPRUNG as Executor of the ESTATE OF ROGER RECHLER, Plaintiff, v…

Court: Supreme Court of the State of New York, Nassau County

CASE NO: 004500/09.

Date published: Mar 1, 2010

Fact:

  • In March 2009, the plaintiff Dennis Sprung, as executor of the Estate of Roger Rechler, initiated legal action against Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. (“GHB”) and its principal, Glenn Horowitz, seeking an accounting and/or the recovery of proceeds allegedly generated from the disposition of rare books entrusted to the defendants by Rechler before his death in 2008.
  • Rechler and Horowitz had a history of transactions involving rare books dating back to the 1990s, with Rechler purchasing books from Horowitz for approximately $2.7 million.
  • In 2002, Rechler asked Horowitz to sell his rare book collection, leading to an auction by Christies where 238 book lots were sold, generating an overall profit of $3.2 million.
  • After the auction, 137 book lots remained and were entrusted to the defendants for sale, with an agreed-upon commission of 20%.
  • Horowitz offered to purchase the remaining 137 lots for $1 million in 2003, but Rechler rejected the offer.
  • Over the next few years, Horowitz and GHB sold most of the remaining book lots through third-party sales and arranged a donation of 50 lots to the University of Texas in 2006.
  • A letter from Horowitz to Rechler in July 2006 mentioned owing Rechler $190,000 to complete their business dealings.
  • Horowitz gained prominence in the literary archive world, as evidenced by a New York Times article in March 2007.
  • The defendants provided periodic spreadsheet statements to Rechler listing the book lots sold, original purchase prices, and commission amounts deducted from the sale proceeds, which were forwarded to Rechler.
  • Rechler received and retained these statements and payments without objection for two years, during which over $400,000 in sale proceeds were forwarded to him.
  • However, in 2006, after all the dispositions were completed, there were allegedly still 14 book lots unaccounted for or unsold, which the defendants dispute.

Issue: 

Conclusion: 

The Court has considered the parties’ remaining contentions and concludes that they do not support an award of relief beyond that expressly granted above.

Accordingly, that branch of the motion by the defendants-counterclaim plaintiffs,  Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc., which is for a protective order with respect to stated discovery demands is granted in accordance herewith, and the motion is otherwise denied ; and the cross motion by the plaintiff Dennis Sprung, as Executor of the Estate of Roger Rechler is granted to the extent that the amended complaint in the form attached to the plaintiff’s cross motion shall be deemed served, and the plaintiff’s cross motion is otherwise denied ; and the defendants’ time to serve an amended answer shall be enlarged until 20 days after service upon them of a copy of this decision and order.

A Preliminary Conference has been scheduled for May 18, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. in Chambers of the undersigned. Please be advised that counsel appearing for the Preliminary Conference shall be fully versed in the factual background and their client’s schedule for the purpose of setting firm deposition dates. 

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