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Bona Yoo, Sales Director at  Lévy Gorvy.
Bona Yoo, Sales Director at Lévy Gorvy.

Lehmann Maupin Accuses Former Employee of Stealing Trade Secrets

In a suit filed in late November and updated this week at a federal district court house in New York, Lehmann Maupin Gallery has accused Bona Yoo, a former director who joined Lévy Gorvy Gallery in New York as sales director in early November, of stealing trade secrets for her own financial gain.

The suit alleges that Yoo “surreptitiously copied valuable trade secrets” from her former employer’s computer systems and “maliciously corrupted” and deleted important information from its database. She “blindsided” Lehmann Maupin when she gave one day’s notice before leaving in October in order to “expand another art gallery’s presence in Asia (and Korea specifically),” the suit continues. Her addition to Lévy Gorvy was announced a week later, and shortly thereafter, the suit claims that Lehmann Maupin’s directors discovered “substantial alterations to certain client information contained in ArtBase,” where inventory and client contact information is stored.

After a computer forensics expert was brought on to further examine the damages, the suit alleges that, “to date, the vendor has discovered that, in addition to the ArtBase alterations, Bona Yoo purged hundreds of files” from her former gallery’s cloud storage in the week preceding her departure and, in some cases, replaced correct information with false client data. 

Dominique Lévy told Artnet that she was “tremendously saddened” by the suit and that she and Lévy Gorvy, where she is a partner, stand behind Yoo. Yoo’s attorney Tibor Nagy told Artnet: “Lehmann Maupin brought this lawsuit purely out of spite towards a former employee who, in Lehmann Maupin’s own words, was ‘a valuable leader at the gallery.’ Ms. Yoo intends to vigorously defend herself against her former employer’s baseless and vengeful claims.”

The suit claims damages from the violation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act, the Stored Communication Act, confidentiality agreements, and New York Law. Yoo’s response is due by January 29.