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JAPANESE RETAILER NICHII SUED FOR FRAUD BY DESIGNER AMBASZ

 JAPANESE RETAILER NICHII SUED FOR FRAUD BY DESIGNER AMBASZ
 NEW YORK, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement was released today by the international building firm Emilio Ambasz & Associates, Inc.:
 Nichii Co. Ltd., the Japanese superstore giant, and its U.S. subsidiary, Nichii Co. of America Inc., based in Los Angeles, have been sued today by world-renowned building and industrial designer Emilio Ambasz. The suit charges the Japanese company with fraud, including intentional misrepresentation, promise without intent to perform and concealment, relating to a multi-million dollar contract in which Ambasz's building firm, Emilio Ambasz & Associates Inc. (EAA), designed for Nichii a glass-enclosed department store to be built in Hokkaido, Japan. The suit was brought in federal court in Los Angeles.
 According to the suit, Nichii sought to retain a designer of international fame to work on various projects including the creation of a new style of business -- the "Nichii Philosophy" -- in product lines. Nichii and EAA entered into the contract for the design of the Obihiro store in Hokkaido in July 1987, and EAA's design concept was met with acclaim throughout Japan. The project was considered so outstanding that Japanese public authorities granted Nichii extraordinary special permits and zoning variances to go forward. According to the suit, after having used Ambasz's fame and designs to obtain the permits and variances and to promote Nichii's corporate identity, Nichii secretly canceled the Obihiro project without telling Ambasz, and fraudulently induced Ambasz to continue performing design work for Nichii. On Aug. 8, 1991, Nichii informed Ambasz that it was canceling the Obihiro project; however, just a few weeks later, Ambasz learned that Nichii was relying on several of the permits and zoning variances gained by Ambasz's original design to build a less expensive, architecturally drab building at the same site.
 Ambasz's claim, which seeks over $10,000,000 in damages, states that Toshimine Kobayashi, president of Nichii and an aspirant to high office in the Keidanren, Japan's leading business organization, was involved in the fraud.
 An arbitration proceeding initiated by EAA to enforce payment on the Obihiro contract is pending in Japan. On Sept. 29, 1992, the U.S. Embassy wrote to Kobayashi expressing its concern about the situation.
 "This is a classic case of fraud," according to Ronald S. Katz of the international law firm, Coudert Brothers, which represents Ambasz in the federal suit. "Nichii defrauded Mr. Ambasz to gain economic advantage from his design work and celebrity status and then failed to meet its contractual obligations. Such conduct is below the morals of the marketplace in both the United States and Japan."
 "I am extremely disappointed that after all of my work for Nichii, including the design of an architecturally distinguished building for the Obihiro project, Nichii would defraud me and then substitute what I consider to be a tawdry mediocrity for my work," said Ambasz. "I had much respect for Kobayashi and I would like to believe that he was not aware what others in his company were doing."
 Ambasz served as curator of design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1970-1976) and was a two-term president of the Architectural League (1981-1985). Among Ambasz's large number of prestigious projects are the Mycal Sanda Cultural Center in Japan, the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City and the Conservatory at the San Antonio Botanical Center in Texas. In 1989, a retrospective of Ambasz's architectural designs, "Emilio Ambasz: Architecture," was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His work, which has been shown at many other prestigious museums as well, has won numerous prizes and awards. In 1993, his work is scheduled to be exhibited at the prestigious Tokyo Station Gallery.
 -0- 10/21/92
 /CONTACT: Emilio Ambasz, 212-420-8850, or Ronald S. Katz of Coudert Brothers, 415-986-1300, for Emilio Ambasz/ CO: Nichii Co. Ltd.; Nichii Co. of America ST: California, New York IN: REA SU:


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Date:Oct 21, 1992
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