Two years ago a Star Trek fan sued Christie’s auction house and CBS claiming that a visor that he purchased at auction was falsely attributed as one worn by Brent Spiner on Star Trek The Next Generation. Even though the fan said Spiner was a witness to the false claim by Christies, he lost his final appeal yesterday. Details below.
The tale of the visor
This saga all started when Ted Moustakis purchased a number of items in the 2006 Christie’s Star Trek auction which brought in over $7 million. The New Jersey man spent over $12,000 for a uniform and a poker visor worn by Brent Spiner (TNG: Data) as well as a poker table used on TNG. Moustakis claimed the items are not genuine and says that Spiner is backing him up. Moustakis showed the visor to Spiner at the 2007 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas and Spiner told him it was not one he wore.
Moustakis with his alleged fake memorabilia
However yesterday Moustakis lost his last appeal in the case. Law.com quotes the ruling:
"Contrary to plaintiff’s contention that defendant Christie’s had represented the Commander Data uniform to be one of a kind, no such representation was ever made in the auction catalog," the panel wrote.
Moreover, the conditions of sale, which Moustakis accepted, expressly stated that "all property is sold ‘as is’ without any representation or warranty of any kind by Christie’s or the seller," the court noted.
The panel held that the fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims were duplicative of the breach of contract claims and concluded that Moustakis had not sufficiently stated a violation of General Business Law §§349 or 350.
"Finally, the misconduct alleged here, which arises out of a private contract, does not resemble the egregious wrongdoing that could be considered part of a pattern directed at the public generally, so as to warrant the imposition of punitive damages," the panel held.
UPDATE: Trek Prop Collecting Expert Says Suit Had No Merit
Alec Peters, owner of PropWorx and an expert in Star Trek memorabilia has weigned in on this at his Star Trek Prop, Costume and Auction Blog. Peters was at the Christie’s auction and asserts it was clear that the Data visor was never presented as one worn on screen. Peter’s (who is also an attorney) writes:
Christie’s had clearly spelled this out in the catalog and in the Auction Notes, where note # 633 read: “Please note that this should read ‘made for’ and not worn by.”
Peter’s also offers this important advice:
If you want to buy movie props & costumes you need to do your homework. At a studio sale, the authenticity of an item is not in question, but the status of the item, i.e. screen used, production made, etc., needs to be carefully reviewed.
Read more at startrekauction.blogspot.com