£1m artworks bought for £8,000, court told
AN ART collector is embroiled in a £1million row with an antiques dealer over six Chinese figurines.
Frank Faryab claims to have snapped up the rare items – worth more than £900,000 – after seeing them on sale for just £8,000.
But Mati Sinai, who runs the Mayfair Gallery in London, says he has never owned the disputed items, which include a cloisonné figure of a lady dating from the Imperial Dynasty and five Chinese monks.
He added that even if he did, he would never have agreed to sell the valuable works of art for such a low sum and branded Mr Fayab’s claim to be the rightful owner as “absurd”.
According to a writ lodged with the High Court, Mr Faryab, 69, claims he handed over a cheque for £8,000 to pay for the figures in March 2012.
But when he returned to collect the items, he says Mr Sinai refused to hand them over, claiming he was owed thousands of pounds for other pieces of art Mr Faryab had previously acquired.
The collector, who owns a number of listed buildings in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, accuses Mr Sinai of trying to pass off a different Chinese lady to the one he had bought. He also claims that each time he went to collect his purchases, Mr Sinai cancelled on him and refused to produce the figures, despite ten letters urging him to do so.
Mr Sinai, who founded the Mayfair Gallery in 1975, denies the claims.
He says Mr Faryab had written three cheques for a total of £44,500 in 2011, and asked him not to bank them immediately as he was waiting for money from the sale of a painting and Chinese jade. Two of those cheques, totalling £17,000, bounced and Mr Sinai claims Mr Faryab still owes him £38,500 for the unnamed items.
He accepts Mr Faryab had sent him emails but claims they concerned various issues, including possession proceedings against his home in Cirencester by the property’s owners, who include Mr Sinai. Mr Faryab is not seeking financial compensation but says he just wants to have the figures he claims are rightfully his, saying that in 54 years in the business, he had never seen “such wonderful pieces of great and rare historical importance”.
In 2007, Mr Faryab spent £2million proving that an obscure oil painting he had bought was by JMW Turner.
Experts later agreed it was a Turner masterpiece, worth £4m. lost