It’s been three years since Peter Guber lost a Roman bronze head, and the mogul is still looking for payback.
On Thursday, Guber filed a lawsuit against Abacus Insurance Brokers, alleging that the company failed to properly advise him on policies when he took possession of the multi-million dollar antiquity. As a result, Guber’s insurance claims for the missing head have been denied.
The story goes back to 2012, when Guber — the chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, and a longtime collector of fine arts and antiquities — agreed to trade 42 Greek coins for the bronze head of Lucius Aelius Verus, the son of the Roman emperor Hadrian. The deal was brokered by Robert Freeman, a partner in the Santa Monica antiquities dealership of Freeman & Sear, according to the suit. Guber then attempted to sell the head through Freeman & Sear, without success.
In March of 2014, Guber grew frustrated that the head had not yet been sold and asked Freeman to return it, according to the suit. Freeman, however, skipped a meeting and did not respond to subsequent demands to produce the head.
Guber later discovered that Freeman had consigned the head to another dealer as collateral for a personal loan, and then sold it to yet another party, according to the lawsuit. Guber sued Robert Freeman in 2014, but later withdrew that suit.
Instead, he pursued repayment through three different insurers. Freeman & Sear had a policy on the head with Travelers Insurance which would pay out to Guber. But Travelers denied Guber’s claim, stating that only Freeman & Sear had a right to seek a claim through the policy. Guber then submitted a claim through Allianz, which insured his other collections, and which also denied coverage. Guber then turned to AIG, which provided his homeowners’ policy, and which spent a year investigating the matter before reaching the conclusion that the head was not covered by its policy either.
Guber ultimately reached confidential settlements with Allianz and AIG, but is still seeking $2 million from Abacus. According to the suit, Abacus has served as Guber’s personal insurance broker since the 1980s, when he began acquiring fine arts and antiquities, and has bought several hundred policies through the company over the decades.
The lawsuit contends that Abacus gave him bad advice when he acquired the bronze head, specifically alleging that an Abacus representative told him that the Travelers policy would be “fine,” as well as causing a delay in seeking coverage from AIG, allegedly harmed the claim.
Guber’s attorney declined to comment on the suit.