AuctionHouse

How not to sell stolen art

Art dealer Kenneth Hendel recently found himself in a sticky situation: He was in possession of stolen art. The Florida-based dealer purchased a painting by Picasso after it failed to sell at auction. After the purchase, Wilma “Billie” Tisch, the rightful owner, discovered the painting’s whereabouts and demanded its return. Hendel claims that he is now the rightful owner. The dealer is confident that he will not be forced to return the work because he is working under the assumption that Florida law protects his purchase. He claims that “the piece belongs to the last person who purchased it if it has passed through at least two people since the theft.” This is simply not true.

While it is true that certain aspects of the law in Florida are more forgiving towards current possessors than would be the case under New York law, there are major misconceptions in Hendel’s analysis. There is no law, in any state, that allows someone to gain title over a work after it has passed through a requisite number of exchanges. In fact, a work can be sold by a hundred dealers and yet still belong to an original owner.

Painting by Vu Cao Dam to be auctioned in France, believed to be fake

The painting is called Jeunes femmes prenant le thé is offered for the starting price of 15,000 to 20,000 euros. According to art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi in France, this is a fake painting, which is ugly, with vulgar lay-out and its style is not that of the famous Fine Arts College of Indochina so it cannot be an artwork by Vu Cao Dam.

Art forger goes straight selling £5,000 fakes

These masterpieces should be worth in the region of a half a billion pounds. Except they are fakes produced by David Henty, a convicted forger who produced them in the living room of his house by the seaside Brighton. Mr. Henty was exposed by The Telegraph a little over a year ago for selling his copies on eBay, duping hundreds, if not thousands, of the internet auction site’s customers in the process. But proving there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Mr. Henty has turned the notoriety to his advantage. 

How a long-lost Rembrandt painting found its way to the Getty Museum

When the small painting with a slightly damaged surface and cracks in its wood backing materialised in September at an auction house in New Jersey, no one expected great things. First and foremost was its murky provenance: The name of the artist was unknown, and so was the date of its creation. The auction house estimated that the work would sell for $500 to $800.

“We had no idea when it came up to sale that there were about to be fireworks,” said John Nye, who runs the Bloomfield, N.J.-based Nye and Co.

In a matter of months, the seemingly unremarkable painting would become the talk of the international art world after it was judged to be a long-lost work by the 17th century Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn.

Here's why this small painting costs $20 million

This month, New York will once again host a “gigaweek” of postwar, impressionist, modern, and contemporary art auctions, where hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of paintings and sculptures will sell every night for five days in a row.

The current narrative sending jitters through the art world is that the market, especially at the high end, is experiencing “a correction,” which is a polite way of saying that wildly expensive paintings are becoming slightly less so. Still, the evening auctions have more than enough multimillion-dollar, museum-quality artworks that will (if they sell) quiet naysayers—at least for now.

Art fakes, a genuine menace!

Every week, Akbar and Bhanu Padamsee receive images from collectors and auction houses for them to look at and confirm authenticity. On most occasions, they turn out to be forgeries. “Most of the works which have been brought to us in the recent past, have not been painted by Akbar,” says Bhanu.

The wife of the master painter made the alarming disclosure to ETPanache while attending a celebration at Priyasri Art Gallery in south Mumbai, to mark the artist’s 88th birthday. However, adds Bhanu, the proliferating racket of fakes is not confined to the octogenarian’s works alone, but confronts all other leading artists too.

Sotheby's defends suit over a Motherwell

In a lawsuit that can only be described as highly unusual, Irish art dealer Oliver Sears has sued Sotheby’s auction house in US District Court, Southern District of New York, over a purported Robert Motherwell painting consigned for auction this past fall that was withdrawn before the November sale, since it was believed to be a fake.

The case as laid out in the legal complaint is not entirely clear and often very confusing. But it appears that what Sears saw featured in the Sotheby’s catalogue titled Brushy Elegy, and dated 1979—a work he owns and has physical possession of in his native country of Ireland—was likely a copy. Sears’ attorney says he was alarmed not only by the fact of seeing what he believed was his painting for sale, but also by the far lower estimate of what he says his authentic Motherwell is worth.

Auction house was about to auction off smuggled goods

Next Tuesday, Christie’s will auction off an impressive collection of Indian art, minus two items: federal agents seized two ancient artifacts from the auction house on Friday, having traced them to notorious smuggler Subhash Kapoor, who’s said to have smuggled over $100 million in rare artifacts.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), special agents in Homeland Security Investigations worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Indian government and Interpol, to identify and seize the stolen artifacts, which were included in Christie’s catalogue for The Lahiri Collection of ancient and modern Indian and Himalayan art, set to be auctioned off during next week’s Asian Art Week.