NEW YORK--Makeup artist Francois Nars is involved in a legal battle with a woman who charges he is cheating her out of a 50 percent stake in Agora Cosmetics Inc., which markets the Nars cosmetics line. Batia Smira claims in papers filed in state court here that she was a full partner with Nars in creating his line in 1991. The brand is exclusively at Barneys. Smira said she worked 40 to 70 hours a week, operated the firm--then called Odora Inc. --out of her Brooklyn apartment and lent "significant amounts of monies to the joint venture," while Nars only lent his name to the product. The court documents said "Nars did not contribute any capital, knowhow in the formulation of the actual cosmetics or contacts in the cosmetics industry." Smira said that after Nars reincorporated the firm under the Agora name in October 1994, she was unexpectedly fired and denied her share in Nars' profits. She is suing for $3 million in damages and asking that Agora be dissolved so she can claim her share of the business. State Court Judge Beverly Cohen has granted a temporary restraining order preventing Nars from selling any portion of the business, pending a Sept. 7 hearing to determine if Agora should be dissolved. A spokeswoman for Agora declined to comment on the suit.
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