Christie’s to Refund £1.7 Million for Fake Russian Painting

Bullet Shih Jul, 2012 0
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Several months ago we reported about Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg and his lawsuit against Christie’s over the purchase of a painting by Boris Kustodiev titled Odalisque purportedly painted in 1919.

The Telegraph has reported that the High Court in London has ruled in Vekselberg’s favour requiring Christie’s to refund the £1.7 million that he paid for it as well as pay his £1 million in legal costs.  The Telegraph writes,

Christie’s said they were “surprised and disappointed” by the ruling.

A spokesman said: “We welcome the judge’s findings that Christie’s was not negligent. We are surprised and disappointed by his view of the painting’s attribution. We maintain our belief in the attribution to Kustodiev and are considering our options.”

Lawyers for Christie’s argued during the case that Odalisque had a “reliable provenance”, pointing out that the painting featured a distinctive chair known to have been owned by the painter. They also claimed that the pigment used in the signature was available in 1919, albeit not in common usage until the 1930s.

The painting was first sold by Christie’s in 1989 for £19,000, but by the time of the 2005 auction its pre-sale estimate had risen to £180,000-£220,000.

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