Gallery boss admits record-keeping casual but says Bambury was paid in full for works.

An artist in a legal dispute with his long-term agent has been accused of incorrectly recalling what happened to his artworks.

Stephen Bambury - an abstract painter whose work has been exhibited internationally as well as extensively in New Zealand - claims his former dealer sold a number of his works without telling him, reportedly pocketing more than $700,000.

Gallery director Andrew Jensen, of Fox Jensen gallery in Auckland's Newmarket, insists Bambury was paid everything he was due.

In the High Court at Auckland yesterday, Justice John Fogarty heard detailed evidence about Mr Jensen's records for each work.


Taking the stand in the case, Mr Jensen read through a list of almost 40 artworks.

The dealer, who also has a gallery in Sydney, claimed "Stephen's recollection is incorrect".

He outlined when each work was sold, who to, the sum paid, and how the money was split with the artist.

The records were complicated by the sometimes casual nature of their financial relationship, which Mr Jensen said included oral agreements, payments being used to offset other expenses, and trade-ins.

However, he said not only could each of the works be tracked, having been sold to customers or given back to Bambury, but he sometimes lost money from their casual agreements.

In one example, Mr Jensen said a piece was sold to a client for $14,500, despite the agreed retail price being set at $15,000, because the customer had been advised of the lower price at another gallery where Bambury's work was displayed. He told the court he paid Bambury the full $15,000 and his gallery absorbed the loss.

Another work Bambury claimed not to have been paid for had actually been sold directly from his studio, and not through the gallery, the dealer said.

Some works were paid for in cash, and Mr Jensen acknowledged the gallery's cash records, especially for smaller works, were "casually conducted". But he maintained that all were accounted for.

The case continues.