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Archive for Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Wichita officials, buyer won’t budge on sculpture sold by mistake at auction

October 12, 2004

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— A man who bought parts of a sculpture put up for auction by mistake is still at odds with the city, which wants them back.

The base plate and a 17-inch section of the stainless-steel sculpture by James Rosati were sold to Matthew Cuellar at the auction of surplus items on Oct. 2.

"The city doesn't want to negotiate in any way, shape or form," said Cuellar, 30. "They said if I don't give it back to them for their price, plus a little bit for my time, they are just going to put (the rest of the sculpture) on the shelf and forget about it."

Joe Lang, assistant city attorney, said the city was still considering what to do.

The sculpture, "Upright Form V," was donated to the city in the early 1990s. It formerly was located near the Willowbend Golf Club, but had been in storage. While it hasn't been appraised, estimates have placed the sculpture's value at between $7,000 and $30,000.

Cuellar, who paid $45 for the two pieces, has said he will sell them back to the city for one-third of the sculpture's true value.

Cuellar said he also found two more pieces of the same 9-foot-tall sculpture at the auction and bid $230 for them. But when he tried to pay for them, city employees discovered the mistake in putting the sculpture up for sale and refused to release them. Cuellar wants the city to release those pieces to him as well.

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