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Ordinarily, if something is loaned to someone and suffers damage an insurance claim is made by the party in possession to compensate the owner for their loss and, one expects, that is the end of matters.

However, in 2015 when Teddy M entered into a commercial agreement to loan a number of paintings to Jonathan Berlin and his mannequin making business Universal Display Fittings Co Ltd, and some of these works were damaged, Jonathan Berlin chose another path.


It was not until 6 weeks after collecting the artworks from Teddy M and shipping them to New York - without declaring the nature of the cargo to either the shipper or UK & US Customs - and another week after placing them on display in his showroom representing his business at the Retail Design Collective in New York that Johnathan Berlin then notified Teddy M his work was damaged.


Rather than make an insurance claim for the damages he identified, Jonathan Berlin opted instead for nearly 4 years of litigation costing his business over £250,000 in legal fees and his actions also attracted the attentions of the police.  In contrast, Teddy M represented himself.

When the damaged artworks were eventually ordered by the court to be returned to Teddy M in October 2018, he had no desire to keep work damaged by a third party and decided to take inspiration from the artist John Baldessari.  He set about building a large bonfire at his studio and along with other unsold and unwanted artworks, Teddy M cremated all the damaged paintings.





During the litigation process, the Metropolitan Police issued Jonathan Berlin with a Harassment Notice.  This was based on a series of emails he sent to Teddy M and which the artist considered contained very personal, abusive and threatening statements along with making constant demands that Teddy M must sign a waiver absolving Universal Display of any responsibility for the damages or the business would continue to detain the artist's paintings.

The Metropolitan Police were then involved in a separate and more serious issue involving written statements Jonathan Berlin made under oath in a witness statement submitted to the court.  The investigation concluded with a police sergeant and a detective CID officer being of the opinion it would be appropriate to report an allegation of perjury against Jonathan Berlin. 

Perhaps another sign of immorality occurred on 4 June 2018, when Jonathan Berlin mistakenly sent Teddy M an email intended for his lawyers.  In this email, Jonathan Berlin said he had comprehensive insurance for goods in transit and was himself considering making an insurance claim for the artworks, although he claimed not to know what value to place on the damaged art.  In reality, the value of the damaged art was known from the outset and further determined by a court appointed art expert with over 30 years experience but, Jonathan Berlin still refused to accept the valuation affording each damaged painting a replacement value of between £4,500 and £5,000.

In respect of the email of 4 June 2018, it remains a mystery as to why Jonathan Berlin and his lawyers continued to pursue the defence the paintings were damaged before they collected them from the artist when behind closed doors they were seemingly in discussion about an insurance claim for the the same works of art with reference to when Universal Display originally shipped the paintings to New York.  

While Teddy M considers a miscarriage of justice eventually took place because he was not allowed to disclose Jonathan Berlin's email of 4 June 2018 to the trial judge and the judge also appeared rather confused by the art expert's opinions and overlooked factors such as the dubious and unacceptable manner in which Universal Display shipped the paintings to and from New York, he was at least happy the court said on record that Universal Display Fittings Co Ltd's actions were 'unlawful' when they detained the paintings for nearly 3 years while demanding a waiver be signed for their release and payment made for their storage.


Teddy M is also satisfied Jonathan Berlin has now exposed his true character and also paid the financial price of his actions.  An insurance claim would have cost Jonathan Berlin and Universal Display nothing.  Yet they decided to press on with legals and ended up spending £250,000 never to be seen again...

*Correct at time of publication.  Source: Companies House.

Teddy M believes the contents of this publication are correct to the best of his knowledge and that the facts contained in this publication are considered 'verifiable facts' by means of documents issued by the Metropolitan Police, Andrew Acquier FRICS and court disclosures along with emails sent to Teddy M by Jonathan Berlin.