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A renowned Iranian-born artist and Oregon State graduate is in a legal battle to prevent the sale of 114 of her paintings found at a storage locker auction.

Tala Madani attended Oregon State University, obtaining a BFA in Visual Arts and BA in Political Science in 2004, prior to obtaining her MFA from Yale University in 2006. While at Oregon State, Madani was awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Art. Like many undergraduates headed off to graduate school, sometime between Corvallis and New Haven, Madani stashed her belongings in a storage locker at Polk County Storage in Independence, Oregon, including 114 paintings, some dating back to when Madani was in 6th grade.

Subsequently (dates aren’t included in the Complaint), Madani failed to maintain payments for the storage locker and the contents were sold at auction.

Brad Daily and Mike Claxton, principals of Independence Collection (“Independence”), won the contents of Madani’s locker at a storage locker auction.  Upon examining the contents of their new locker, Independence discovered the 114 paintings, along with other personal items, including photo ID cards, personal photographs and negatives and a handwritten journal.

The Complaint indicates Independence “contacted [Madani] in an attempt to return the personal items.” They also “discussed the return of several of the paintings believed to be of notable value, but negotiations quickly degenerated.”

Apparently unable to successfully transfer the paintings back to Madani, Independence then made several attempts to sell the paintings. However, they were repeatedly thwarted by Madani, who has claimed that any sale, in addition to criminal penalties, would subject Independence and complicit auction houses to claims under the Visual Artists Rights Act. As such, Independence has brought this lawsuit to obtain a Declaratory Judgment of Ownership (and right to sell) the Madani paintings.

Stay tuned for updates.

Independence Collection, LLC v. Tala Madani

Court Case Number: 6:13-cv-01397-MC
File Date: Sunday, August 11, 2013
Plaintiff: Independence Collection, LLC
Plaintiff Counsel: Carl D. Crowell of Crowell Law
Defendant: Tala Madani
Cause: Declaratory Relief – Quiet Title, Injunctive Relief – Non-Interference, Declaratory Relief – 17 USC 106A
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Judge Michael J. McShane

Declaratory Judgment of Ownership: