Jesse Davis wants Elizabeth Taylor back. And this time he’s going to court to get her.
Davis, a former employee of The Abbey, has filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against The Abbey and its owner, SBE Entertainment Group, alleging that it has refused to return to him a famous painting of the actress that graces the one of the walls of the gay nightclub and restaurant.
In his suit, Davis says that he worked at The Abbey for more than seven years, serving as VIP manager. In that role he got to know Taylor, who visited the club often before her death in 2011. Davis said he dined with Taylor and that she invited him to her home. He said that on one occasion in August 2009, Taylor took him into her bedroom and showed him a painting of herself and offered it to him as a gift.
Davis said he told Taylor that he wanted to hang the painting at The Abbey temporarily. Taylor worked with Davis to appropriately light the painting. In his lawsuit, Davis said the painting attracted international press coverage, and additional business for The Abbey. But he said he became alarmed when he discovered that a drunk patron had removed the painting from the wall on New Year’s Even 2010 and danced with it. Davis took the painting home.
Davis said that after Taylor’s death David Cooley, The Abbey’s founder, asked him several times to return the painting so that The Abbey could create a memorial to Taylor. Davis agreed to loan it to The Abbey.
In his lawsuit, he says that in March of last year, as he prepared for a move to North Carolina, he asked that the painting be returned to him. Davis said that neither SBE nor Cooley have responded to any of his requests or those of his former lawyer. The portrait has been on display over the fireplace on the southern wall of The Abbey, a position now occupied by a Christmas wreath.
Davis is asking the court to award him $75,000, which he says is the value of the painting, plus punitive damages and legal fees.
The Abbey’s publicist said it has no response to Davis’s suit and allegations.