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Dan Lam, “Ready” (2018) (courtesy the artist)

Mamacha, the infamous New York café known for its lengthy legal battle with the Museum of Modern Art, is again in legal trouble. On Thursday, May 6, artist Dan Lam filed a lawsuit against the café and its partnering gallery the Hole for allegedly failing to pay her for works sold in a 2018 exhibition, for damaging others, and for failing return unsold works.

Lam, Dallas-based artist known for her colorful neon foam and resin sculptures, has shown 60 of her works at the inaugural exhibition of Mamacha, which shares a space with The Hole gallery, in April 2018. According to the lawsuit, filed the New York State Supreme Court, Lam only received $6,000 of a nearly $36,000 remittance she is owed for eight works that have been sold, four that have been damaged, and nine that have gone missing. Lam says that the café ignored her inquiries about paying her the rest of the sum.

Lam says her inquiries about the sales and the whereabouts of her works were answered with vague and inaccurate reports. She alleges that Mamacha only provided a report filled with discrepancies, while the Hole’s website didn’t accurately reflect sales. The lawsuit adds that since November, both Mamacha and the Hole have stopped responding to Lam and her lawyer’s letters.

Hyperallergic has reached out to Mamacha multiple times but has not received a response. The Hole’s owner Kathy Grayson told artnet that her gallery is not a party to the dispute. “Any fiscal relationship was between Dan and Mamacha only. We didn’t earn commission on sales, we didn’t know Dan wasn’t paid. We are obviously very disappointed in the business practices of our tenant, and are especially sensitive to artists being paid in a timely and complete manner,” Grayson told artnet. Grayson added that her gallery is “very disappointed in the business practices of [its] tenant.”

“We respectfully disagree with that position,” Lam’s attorney, Andrew Gerber, wrote to Hyperallergic in an email. Lam’s works were consigned by both the Hole and Mamacha and were offered for sale on The Hole’s website, he said. “Unfortunately, Mamacha continues to refuse to rectify the situation so we will be moving the lawsuit forward,” he added.

Lam is seeking the remaining sum she is owed, repayment of Mamacha’s commission, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...