He was acclaimed as Britain’s number one art dealer by the time he was 40, with his London gallery reportedly raking in £350 million a year in sales.
Now Harry Blain, friends of Brit Art icons such as shark-pickler Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, finds his lustrous image in danger of being tarnished following an undignified and bitter dispute with two former business partners who have initiated legal proceedings against him.
Accusing the twice-married Blain, now 50, of dishonesty, financiers Chris Boas and James Graham-Maw are demanding repayment of £500,000, after each investing £250,000 in 2012 in one of Blain’s ventures, Sedition.
The company allows customers to buy online images from the likes of Emin and Hirst for anything from £5 to £1,500.
Harry Blain is pictured with artist Tracey Emin at a ball in March 2011
Blain, pictured left, is friends of numerous Brit Art icons - including Mat Collishaw, pictured right
Stephen Webster, Mat Collishaw, Harry Blain and Assia Webster (left to right) at a private viewing in April this year
Boas and Graham-Maw say only £725,000 worth of subscription shares in Sedition were issued — rather than £1 million, as they had been assured would be the case — and that, as a result, their money should have been returned to them.
They claim Blain used the money ‘for purposes unknown’, causing Sedition to breach agreements, and also allege he transferred shares to another company, Markway Ltd, in an act of deliberate deception.