After Swiss prosecutors seized a Modigliani painting from storage that the art dealing family the Nahmads denied they owned, Doreen Carvajal reports in the New York Times that dealer David Nahmad has now admitted he is the current owner of the painting, Seated Man with a Cane, but claims that it is not the same work that once belonged to the prewar Jewish art dealer Oscar Stettiner and should not be subject to his heir Philippe Maestracci’s restitution claim.
A reformed forger has rejected criticism that selling his near-perfect copies of world famous paintings is damaging the art world. David Henty, who has previously been convicted of forging passports and number plates, insisted he is simply allowing the public to own great artworks at an affordable price.
Until recently he sold forgeries of Van Gogh, Picasso and Modigliani online, auctioning off hundreds of his works through multiple eBay accounts. He trod a fine line between legality and law-breaking by never explicitly claiming – merely implying – that his reproductions might be authentic originals.
The Geneva papers say local prosecutors entered the storage facility to determine the location of the disputed Modigliani. At present, no one is saying whether the authorities seized the work or even located it:
The Geneva public prosecutor wasted no time. Two days after opening unsolicited inquiries for “to audit” in relation to the revelations of Panama papers, prosecutors went to action. The prosecutor Claudio Mascotto conducted Friday morning a search on the site francs Ports Geneva, in the premises of the works of art storage company Rodolphe Haller.
According to our information, the prosecution is interested in a painting by Modigliani, The man sitting leaning on a cane. A painting valued at $ 25 million, including Panama papers have revealed the true owner, art collector David Nahmad. When contacted, the Public Ministry has not wished to make any comment.
This morning Bloomberg confirmed with the prosecutors that the painting had been confiscated:
As part of the case, investigators on Friday searched facilities at the Geneva Free Ports, and confiscated the painting, “Seated Man with a Cane,” the Geneva Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Monday.