£1m art­works bought for £8,000, court told

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Pa­trick Sawer Sarah Lim­brick

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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

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