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Denton's Mayor Bought a Condo at One Arts Plaza, Refuses to Return Seller's $175K Artwork

Denton's Mayor Bought a Condo at One Arts Plaza, Refuses to Return Seller's $175K Artwork

We're not entirely sure why Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs just paid $2.2 million for a condo at Dallas' One Arts Plaza. Vacation home? Rental property? That's between him and the voters of Denton; the deed is now in his name, according to Dallas County records.

("My wife buys, makes over/redesigns and outfits condos (and houses) as her business," Burroughs wrote in an email Wednesday evening, after this post was published. "This is her sixth project, I believe.")

We do know that he bought it from Dallas socialite Angela Barrett (read Skip Hollandworth's Texas Monthly profile, "Angie Barrett Does Not Use Butt Cream") and that the apartment was furnished with "Vertigo," artist Teresita Fernandez's 2007 piece, which was sold through the University of South Florida's art museum for $175,000. We also know that Barrett wants "Vertigo" back.

How do we know this? Because Barrett just sued Burroughs, claiming he's holding the artwork "hostage." She's not asking for damages ("Due to the one-of-a-kind nature of the artwork, no monetary damage award could compensate Plaintiff for her loss,") just that a judge order Burroughs and his wife to return "Vertigo."

We've sent Burroughs an email seeking comment, but, in the meantime, documents included with the lawsuit hint at why he might be motivated to covet Barrett's property.

In a February 13 letter to her attorney, Burroughs acknowledges that he bought the unit "as is," but that he had to rely on Barrett's check-marked, item-by-item assurances that everything was in working order because she refused to allow a formal inspection.

It was only after the deal was sealed that he began noticing all the things that were wrong: a scorched electrical outlet on the patio; a burned-out condenser on the air conditioner; a broken wine refrigerator; an expensive "Agate" rug that had been part of the deal but had been "bait-and-switched" for a smaller one.

In fact, Burroughs comes right out and says that, yes, he's holding the artwork hostage:

We cannot agree to a totally one-sided resolution devoiding ourselves of any security under these circumstances. We have suggested methodologies to replace the metal art structure as that security. I see nothing suggested in your letter to do so. We will not permit removal of the hold-over metal art fixture without substitute security, resolving these issues or providing some reasonable alternative to accomplish either.

("Look up Ms. Barrett's history and you will probably extrapolate the problem," Burroughs said in his email. "I think it will be resolved presently, however.")

We'll see what the judge says.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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