Sotheby’s and Christie’s – Are They in Conflict of Intrests with the Natural Art Market? – part 1

Warning: the below article is a ‘rant and rave’-article, which you will not usually find on this site. I do however consider it a worthwhile read for all art investors to help better understand the art market, including art auctions. Besides which, it’s not a bad read to boot!

By Gerard Van Weyenbergh

“Are Sotheby’s and Christie’s or all major auctions houses still the reference to establish the value of your art works?

It is not my intention to have them sue me for my thoughts in this letter. Nonetheless there are so many events these last months that I want to bring in daylight some evidence that these major auction houses are interfering in the daily merchants business of antiquities dealers, fine art galleries from all over the world.

Take the time to read what happened to me recently, it is juicy.

One of my clients has a fantastic Modigliani painting from 1918, representing a lady, one of most beautiful paintings by Modigliani if you ask me. This painting comes with a provenance history since the day it was created. First it was bought by Leopold Zwoborowski , Modigliani’s merchant, after a while the famous Katia Granoff bought it in the 1940’s, and stayed in this family until the 1990’s.

In the mean time our painting was exhibited in more than 30 museums or major galleries for Modigliani’s retrospectives : so Galerie Granoff, Galerie Charpentier etc etc., we have of course most of these exhibition catalogs where the painting was represented and even was on the front page of these catalogs. The painting went on world tours, in Italy, Spain, USA, Japan. In Tokyo in the late 90’s our painting was even the poster you could see in the streets of Tokyo, of course we have this poster also.

The painting comes evidently with several certificates: Lantheman, Andre Schoeller from 1954, Mrs L. Zwoborowski, and the famous Mr.Christian Parisot expertise, which is the administrator of legal archives of Modigliani. Of course our painting is repertoried in several catalogue raisonne so the Lantheman etc. Not illustrated in the Ceroni catalogue raisonne but we have the hand written letter of Mrs. Ceroni stating that the painting is repertoried in her late husband’s archives as an authentic Modigliani painting. (Of course, she can prove this we assume).

Click here for part 2 of the article

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