Sothebys and Christies - Are They in Conflict of Intrests with the Natural Art Market?

Publish Date : 2021-04-15


Sothebys and Christies - Are They in Conflict of Intrests with the Natural Art Market?

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).

I find an investor in Florida who is willing to pay $
4,500,000.00 for the painting. ( in my opinion if this painting came in auction it will have a value of 7 to 8 million $. For personal reasons the owner doesn’t want or can’t put this painting for auction, not necessary to explain that the
taxes administration of his country have something to do with this.

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My investor, is in love with the painting, but still wants
to have Sotheby’s and Christie’s opinion about the value of this painting. The response came rapidly: they will not accept this painting for their auctions because it is not in the Ceroni archives as a first response, and as a second
response when they find out that the painting is repertoried in the archives, because it is not illustrated in the Ceroni catalogue!. Other ways they are
saying that the painting is maybe a fake? They didn’t say this but what must the investor think?

The painting is under suspicion!

Because the gentlemen and women from Sotheby’s and Christie’s in charge of the Modern and Impressionist art have cold feet or they don’t have enough experience or are they just trying to have the investor buy their own products, where of course at this rate they will make a profit of $ 1,600,000.00 if my investor buys from them a similar value painting? This will
stay without response.
What is evident: is the fact that this painting exhibited in so many museums, repertoried everywhere, seen by millions of people , a painting that was chosen by eminent curators as a jewel of Modigliani’s art to be part of their so difficult to assemble paintings exhibitions.
It is evident that Sotheby’s and Christie’s are killing an
artwork of major importance , and gave it a “ suspicious “ label for their own reason, that I will qualify as financial interests reasons.
My investor didn’t buy the painting and it went back to
Europe..I didn’t make any commission for a very difficult work that took me several months and cost me a serious amount of $ in insurance to ship the painting to the USA.

I conclude that if you have some very important art, with all
the certificates you want, with the best provenance possible, you may be highly disillusioned if you want to sell that major art work you thought has so much value only because of Sotheby’s and Christie’s may decide it so! For me this is manifestly a conflict of interests in the art business. An auction house is
where you sell your art at the highest bidder, the managers should not interfere in the authentication process by taking a position as negative as they did in this case. I mentioned each time Sotheby’s and Christie’s at the same time, even if my investor was working with one of them, but through personal verification I find out that they are working under a same umbrella, so they did in the past so commented here in articles I find on the web:



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