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Friday, December 2, 2022

Manuel Mathieu: artist wins £3m damages over London moped crash

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rising star of the art world who was run over by a stolen moped outside a London university has been awarded more than £3 million in damages.

Manuel Mathieu, 35, was studying for a Fine Art masters at Goldsmiths when, in November 2015, he was knocked down while crossing the road outside the famous University of London college.

The contemporary visual artist spent nearly two weeks in hospital while recovering from his injuries, and brought a legal claim over the harm to his art career and earning potential.

Aviva, the insurers of the stolen moped, accepted liability for the crash and, following a ten-day trial, Mrs Justice Hill has now ordered that Mr Mathieu should receive £3,178,741.64 in damages.

The judge heard detailed evidence of the artist’s career so far, the potential value of his work over the next decade, and how his creative endeavours have been hampered by lasting effects of the moped crash.

Concluding Mr Mathieu is an “intelligent, sensitive, professional man”, she said he “clearly has a well-informed insight into his illness, his symptoms and how best to manage them to enable him to retain his creative inspiration and output as much as possible. That is plainly his main focus in life.”

Mr Mathieu missed a December 2015 exhibition of his work at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London while recuperating from the crash, and he moved to Montreal where he shared a studio with fellow artists Trevor Kiernander and Benjamin Klein.

He has been exhibited in the Tiwani Gallery in London and the prestigious Kavi Gupta in Chicago, had solo shows Art Brussels in Montreal, and enjoyed a one-month residency in Sonoma, USA, alongside noted art collector Pamela Joyner, the court heard.

The judge accepted Mr Matheiu is “currently on a potentially powerful upward trajectory in his career”, including a new show in London this month and being named on the Artnet website’s “12 artists poised to break out in 2022”.

She noted “sustained and rising interest in his work internationally”, as well as “increasing awareness in the art world in recent years of the need to recognise artists from diverse backgrounds”.

“(He) may well be benefitting from what several of the witnesses described as a long overdue historical correction.”

The court heard how Mr Mathieu suffered a brain injury as a result of the crash, on November 28, 2015, he had a black eye for the next eight months, initially struggled to sleep and chew food, and he has experienced fatigue, cognitive problems, and post-traumatic stress order.

“The accident occurred when the claimant was aged 29 and studying for a Masters’ degree in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London”, said the judge in her ruling.

“He was crossing a road in Lewisham at a pedestrian crossing when he was struck by a moped.”

She said Mr Mathieu “has made a very good recovery from his injuries …. (and) has gone on to enjoy a very successful artistic career.”

The Haiti-born artist made a claim against Aviva and the moped rider, Tony Hinds, for £33million.

He was awarded damages based on his potential earnings, demand for his work, and the effects of the injuries he suffered on the rest of his life.

The judge decided not to make a damages award based on the artist’s fear of contracting dementia.

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