By Claire Valdini
US court asked to differentiate after artist sues royals
The government of Saudi Arabia has declared itself a separate entity to its royal family after a US artist was granted permission to take legal action against 16 members of the Al Saud family.
In court documents filed at the US Court of Appeals the oil rich Gulf state has requested that the court differentiates between the royal family and the government of Saudi Arabia.
“The kingdom respectfully requests that this court’s opinion be revised to clarify that the royal family is not equivalent to the kingdom for purposes of service of process,” the Gulf state in court documents filed July 5.
“The royal family is not a governmental entity but a large collection of individuals. Members of the royal family do not have official positions solely by reason of their descent, though some do hold office,” it added.
Failure to clarify the difference “is likely to lead to confusion in this and other cases in which the members of the royal family are named as defendants,” it added.
The intervention follows several months after the US Court of Appeals revived a lawsuit by a New York-based artist who claims he is owed nearly $12.6m for 29 sculptures he designed for the royal family.
Elli Bern Angellino says 16 members of the family asked him to produce the art pieces in 2006 and 2007.
According to court documents, the sculptures were custom-made in Switzerland before being shipped firstly to Angellino in New York and then the Saudi capital Riyadh. Angellino says members of the Saudi royal family personally signed for the pieces of art.
Under Angellino’s agreement with the Al Saud, they were either to pay for the works or return them. Angellino alleges that the recipients kept all of the sculptures and withheld payment.
The artist says he sent a number of notices and invoices to both the Al-Saud and the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington DC in attempts to secure payment before filing legal action.
A federal court dismissed the case in 2010 after a district judge ruled that Angellino had failed to meet legal requirements in pursuing payment for the works before filing a suit.
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