George Webster appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal from a summary judgment partially dismissing his claim for damages against the estate of Ken Thomson.  Webster v. Thomson, 2008 ONCA 730.

At issue was a painting by the American artist, Charles Russell, "Pirates of the Plains", which had been in the Webster family since 1931. Mr. Russell, who died in 1926, is apparently well known for his paintings of the "Old American West". The painting was very special to Mr. Webster who saw it as a link to his father who had originally acquired the painting. 

On September 29, 1982, Mr. Webster’s mother sold the painting to Mr. Thomson, without Mr. Webster’s knowledge, for $150,000. Mr. Webster asked Mr. Thomson if he could re-acquire the painting. Mr. Thomson proposed that if Mr. Webster sold him a painting he owned by Cornelius Krieghoff, Mr. Thomson would give Mr. Webster the opportunity to purchase the Russell painting after he died at the painting’s appraised market value. This proposal was contained in a letter that Mr. Thomson wrote to Mr. Webster. Mr. Webster accepted.

On August 25, 2003, Mr. Thomson sold the Russell painting for U.S. $5,600,000 without apparent regard to his agreement with Mr. Webster. In 2004, Mr. Webster commenced a legal proceeding against Mr. Thomson. Mr. Webster’s claimed damages for breach of contract in the amount of $4,000,000 and punitive damages in the amount of $10,000,000. After Mr. Thomson died in June 2006, the action was continued against his estate.

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