Dismissal of Breach of Contract Suit Upheld

Renowned Ojibway artist Norval Morisseau is known as ‘the Picasso of the North’ and his vibrant paintings are steeped in the iconography of his Aboriginal culture. Since his death in 2007, many of his purported works have also been embroiled in challenges to their authenticity.

A few years ago, a Toronto gallery sold what it believed was an acrylic painting by artist Norval Morrisseau to a northern Ontario buyer. The purchaser came to have doubts about the piece’s authenticity and sued for misrepresentation, breach of contract and deceit.

The lengthy original trial (involving five hearings and 750 pages of evidence) concluded that the work was in fact genuine. The purchaser appealed but the appellate judge supported the original finding. On reviewing the case, the judge found that the gallery owner had only made minor errors of fact in their documentation and ruled that the work was, in fact, a genuine Morrisseau.


An intermediary or agent like an art dealer has a duty to perform and a breach of contract suit may be your remedy in a case where you believe they haven’t upheld their end of the agreement. In this case, the plaintiff seems to be alleging that the gallery actually knew that it wasn’t a real Morrisseau and misrepresented the piece to him from the outset, an assertion both judges disagreed with obviously.

That principle holds true in any contractual agreement, including an employment contract. Both parties have to be truthful in what they bring to the table. Certain misrepresentations are considered material and will nullify either a sales or an employment contract, including:

  • Misrepresentation of the actual item/job
  • Misrepresentation of the terms/conditions

Contractual Obligations

A contract is your assurance of the ground rules involved in any kind of agreement. It’s important to know your rights and obligations and to make sure the other party or parties uphold their end of the deal too.

If you feel the other party isn’t upholding their side of the bargain, you’ll need the help of experienced breach of contract lawyers.  Clarity on the issues covered by a contract is your key to understanding your rights.

Legal Remedies

You only have a limited time to take action. If you think your rights under a contractual agreement are being disregarded contact Petrillo Law today or call us (905) 949-9433 for a free consultation with an experienced contract lawyer.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please enter the CAPTCHA text