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Millionaire Files Lawsuit After Buying Bogus Artwork

May 25, 1995

PHOENIX (AP) _ An heir to the Hormel meatpacking empire is suing a couple who sold him four paintings that he says turned out to be fakes.

George Hormel II said he paid $2.2 million for what he believed were two paintings by Maurice Utrillo and two by Peter Paul Rubens, according to the lawsuit filed against Ruth and Robert Peters.

As part of the deal, Hormel had to buy the Peters’ palatial home and was not allowed to remove the paintings from the walls and examine them before buying them, the lawsuit said.

The $2.2 million included the house and other minor art pieces.

Hormel said that after the final payment, both the Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses in New York concluded that the paintings Hormel bought were bogus.

The Peters’ telephone number is unlisted and they could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Hormel owns 37.5 percent of Hormel Foods Corp.’s stock along with his two brothers.

His lawsuit seeks $2 million and alleges fraud, negligent misrepresentation and civil racketeering.

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