Competing Hamptons art fairs aren’t just butting heads in Bridgehampton, but in court as well.
As was packing up after finishing its fourth annual fair in Sayre Park on Sunday, less than a mile away was getting ready for its Thursday at the grounds.
ArtMRKT Hamptons was founded by Max Fishko and Jeffrey Wainhause, formerly with the Hamptons Expo Group, which puts on ArtHamptons and three other annual art fairs around the country.
sued Fishko and Wainhause in December, shortly after they abruptly severed their ties with the Hamptons Expo Group and decided to strike out on their own. Friedman is alleging breach of fiduciary duty, concealment and misappropriation of his confidential information, wrongful interference with contract, unjust enrichment and wrongful competition, and he is seeking damages.
Last week, State Supreme Court Judge William B. Rebolini denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.
Friedman said Thursday that he doesn’t even really know why Fishko left Hamptons Expo Group. “His lawyer sent me a letter saying he's leaving and that’s it,” he said. “I’ve never talked to him since.” He said Fishko launched his new venture within a week of his departure.
Fishko was the director of ArtHamptons and Wainhause was Hamptons Expo Group’s vice president. They argued to the court that they only worked for Friedman as independent contractors. “I was never an employee of Hamptons Expo Group nor was my partner Jeff,” Fishko told Patch on Friday.
Back in May, ArtHamptons' sister show San Francisco Fine Art Fair went up against artMRKT San Francisco on the same weekend, and in the fall the rivaling organizers will hold fairs a little more than a month apart in Houston.
Fishko said Friday that overlaps were not intentional, but just a result of finding the best weekend to draw large crowds.
“Rick was not the first person to start an art fair in the Hamptons …” Fishko remarked. “No one is allowed to do an art fair in the Hamptons except Rick, or is it just me?”
He added that he feels it’s a shame the conversation around the art fair is dominated by rivalry, rather than the art and artists.