The High Court in London is currently presiding over a fascinating case which centres around whether a painting sold by Auction House Sotheby’s in London was misattributed and was actually worth far more than it ultimately sold for. The case will see some of the leading Caravaggio art experts from around the world give evidence and is expected to last around 4 weeks.
The painting, which was sold in 2006 for £42,000 was, at the time, attributed by Sotheby’s to a follower of the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio. The owner of the painting at the time of sale was Lancelot Thwaytes of Penrith in Cumbria. The Thwaytes family purchased the painting for £140 in 1962. Mr Thwaytes is now suing Sotheby’s in professional negligence after recent investigations carried out by the new owner have illustrated that the painting in question may actually be a genuine Caravaggio and hold a value of around £11million.
The crux of Mr Thwaytes’ case against the Auction House is that more ought to have been done in order to establish whether indeed the painting was a genuine Caravaggio. The oil painting at the centre of the dispute depicts a wealthy man falling victim to two cheats at a card table. Thwaytes argues that the Auction House failed to fulfil its professional duties by failing to fully research the painting and neglected to instruct outside experts. Sotheby’s had carried out X-Rays on the painting but had failed to perform Infrared readings which could have evidenced genuinity. Mr Thwaytes argues that the Auction House is responsible for all of his foreseeable loss stemming from him acting upon their advice.
The Auction House have however vigorously defended the claims and describe as “preposterous” any suggestion that the painting is worth £11 million. Sotheby’s state that its in-house experts who examined the painting were competent to do so and remain confident that the artwork is not a genuine Caravaggio. They state the painting is clearly inferior in quality to the master’s true works. The case continues.
Here at Farleys we have experts specialising in all areas of professional negligence against valuers, solicitors, architects, surveyors and other professionals. If you have been affected by any of the above issues and would like to speak to one of our specialist solicitors about your options moving forwards then do not hesitate to contact us today on 0845 287 0939 or fill out the online contact form.