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Federico Castelluccio continues to stall dispute over Guercino painting
Federico Castelluccio and his St. Sebastian by Guercino. Photo: James Sliman.

NEW YORK, NY.- Just as the Old Master sales are coming up again this month at the major auction houses in town, the lawsuit will move forward against Sopranos actor/artist/art collector Federico Castelluccio for non-payment in the agreed upon amount of $35,000 for two and a half years of publicity services surrounding his Guercino painting of St. Sebastian. A judge in King’s County Supreme Court just recently refused Castelluccio’s request for a dismissal in the case.

The actor’s former publicist James Sliman filed the civil action in Kings County Supreme Court in August for non-payment for publicity and related services in regard to Castelluccio’s discovery of his valuable 17th Century Italian Baroque oil painting of Saint Sebastian by Guercino, which was first announced in September 2014.

The December 16th court hearing addressed the “motion to dismiss” filed by Castelluccio’s attorney, which was not granted. When reached for comment, Sliman tells us “since the complaint was filed in August, Mr. Castelluccio has still made no effort to resolve this matter and no settlement offer has been made at this time. Instead, he continues to try and delay the issue as he’s been doing over the last two and a half years.”

He further says that Castelluccio “continues to say he’s flat broke and cannot pay until he sells the Guercino, even though he maintains a vast museum quality art collection”. When asked why he thinks Castelluccio has still not sold the painting, Sliman commented “I think there are several reasons. I did suggest 3-4 times that he put the painting into the Old Masters sale at one of the major auction houses, which they do every January. His response was to balk at paying the high auction house commission and he told me a few times he would not trust the auction houses with a sale like this. He said they sometimes make side deals or private-sale deals that are not fully beneficial to the seller. I don’t understand this, because major art collectors from all over the world trust these auction houses with their valuable art, why doesn’t he ? My opinion is that he may have a slight problem with auction houses. He never paid a $500 balance from about four years ago at one of the smaller auction houses in town for an antique mirror he purchased, even though he took the mirror home.”

The summons and complaint states that when Sliman’s publicity work on this project began, the two had an agreement based on Castelluccio’s proven expertise in this area of Baroque Old Masters, and his assurances that the painting would be sold within a period of months and Sliman would be paid a mutually agreed upon sum of $35,000.

When this didn’t happen as planned, Sliman says he kept working because he thought Federico was his friend and he believed him when he kept saying the Guercino would be sold very soon. Over a full year later, when Castelluccio put the painting on exhibit at the Princeton University Museum of Art in July 2015, it still hadn’t sold.

Over this whole period of time, Sliman was told there were various delays and reasons why Castelluccio had not yet sold the painting and he never once mentioned that it could take several years or more to sell the Guercino. To date, Castelluccio has not paid his publicist James Sliman one nickel for his two and a half years of work, delivering world-wide coverage and exposure on the Guercino painting and on Castelluccio himself as a serious art collector.

The summons and complaint also states that, on three occasions, Sliman asked Castelluccio to at least come up with some small good faith payments. Each time, Castelluccio refused, saying that he was flat broke. In the civil suit, Sliman is now asking for the $35,000 he earned during this time. He said “Everyone knows what an amazing job I have done for Mr. Castelluccio. I’ve been more patient than anyone else would have been and I only want to be paid for my work as agreed”.

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