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Woman sues Denton mayor over sculpture

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

A Dallas woman filed suit this week against Mayor Mark Burroughs and his wife, Annie Burroughs, in a dispute over a sculpture installed in the Dallas arts district condominium the couple bought from her.

Angela Barrett had Vertigo, a 12-foot span of multiple layers of precisely cut, polished aluminum, installed in the ceiling of one room in the condominium. Created by Teresita Fernandez, a Miami-born, New York-based sculptor, who received a MacArthur genius grant in 2005, the work is representative of the kind of work the sculptor is known for — room-sized installations that explore themes of nature.

Burroughs said the fact that Barrett filed suit surprised him. They had been working through issues that had emerged after the sale. The couple bought the unit at 1717 Arts Plaza in December for $2.2 million using a $1.6 million balloon loan, according to documents filed with the Dallas County courts and clerk. The purchase contract included a 30-day lease back for Barrett.

“We’d been in daily contact with them until yesterday,” Burroughs said.

He had to cancel meetings at City Hall in order to prepare his response. He learned of the lawsuit just before lunch Thursday and prepared a response for the court by 2 p.m. He said late that afternoon the judge denied a temporary restraining order Barrett sought that would have allowed her to bring in the special movers needed to remove the sculpture from the condo.

Court documents showed that the mayor and his wife complained of a number of problems with the condominium after they moved in, including problems with the air conditioner, a wine refrigerator, the satellite television connection and burned-out electrical outlets on the patio.

In addition, a valuable, custom area rug that covered a central part of the unit had been removed and replaced with a much smaller, less valuable rug.

The couple refused to allow Barrett to remove the sculpture without another “security” item that would insure their concerns about the condo were addressed, court records showed.

Barrett’s attorneys did not return a call for comment.

In the suit, Barrett’s attorneys claimed that the couple bought the condominium in “as is” condition and offered to buy the sculpture, but Barrett refused to sell it to them. In court documents, Barrett and her attorneys estimated the piece to be worth $275,000.

Court paperwork showed that Mark and Annie Burroughs moved into the unit in mid-January, and could be served as Dallas County residents living at the condominium.

Mark Burroughs said buying, refurbishing and reselling high-end real estate is his wife’s business and the condo at One Arts Plaza was another project — her fifth or sixth now.

According to his voter registration records, the mayor continues to claim 17 Royal Oaks Circle in Denton, the former home of his late father-in-law, as his legal residence.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.