ORLY? Did The River Cafe Really Sue Over Eliasson's Waterfalls?

So earlier this week, the NY Post's Adam Nichols reported that the owner of the River Cafe, was suing for $3 million damages caused by Olafur Eliasson's The New York City Waterfalls:

Their suit, filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court last week, demands that the project's creators -- New York's Public Art Fund and Danish artist Olafur Eliasson -- be ordered to cough up the cash for repairs.

"There were 90 to 120 days of saltwater rain coming down on us," restaurateur Buzzy O'Keeffe said.

[Waterfalls ran 110 days, from June 26 to Oct 13, 2008, but for the last six weeks, the operating hours were cut in half.] ArtInfo, CityFile, New York Magazine, and some blogs picked up the Post's story.

BUT. I've searched through the relevant court filings, both for the Kings County - Brooklyn Supreme Court and Civil Court, and I can't find any record of an actual lawsuit.

Then on Thursday, the Brooklyn Paper's Mike McLaughlin talked with O'Keeffe for a story titled, "Buzzy prepares his sue-fflé over arborcidal artwork" with details ["The complaint, filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on June 29..."] which make things even less clear:

The suit says that the River Café, owned by Michael "Buzzy" O'Keeffe, "continues to suffer damage and business loss as a result of the defendant's negligence."

Despite the court paperwork seeking $2.983 million in damages, O'Keeffe told The Brooklyn Paper that "the River Café is not suing anyone." He declined to elaborate.

So what began as a dispute over prematurely browned leaves last summer has now become extensive salt-spray-related structural damage and a year of lost business. And at least two reporters appear to have received, or been shown "court paperwork" by O'Keeffe, but there's nothing independently verifiable from the actual court.

I'll be honest, I started digging in this story to find some interesting/entertaining details buried in the lawsuit filing. But so far, it seems like the real story is just a whiny crank with a sweetheart lease talking smack because business is down in a depression and his city-funded arborists don't come around enough.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: July 11, 2009.

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