Sotheby’s calls for help from Christie’s over ‘fake Mas­ter’

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Steve Bird

AS TWO of the world’s old­est and most fa­mous auc­tion houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s en­joy a healthy ri­valry.

But a le­gal bat­tle over the au­then­tic­ity of an £8mil­lion por­trait said to be by a Dutch Golden Age Mas­ter will cul­mi­nate with Sotheby’s re­ly­ing on the ex­per­tise of its ri­val.

Sotheby’s wants art ex­perts from Christie’s to help it prove that Por­trait of a Gen­tle­man – al­legedly by Frans Hals – is in fact a forgery.

In 2011, Sotheby’s sold the paint­ing to an Amer­i­can art col­lec­tor, but it was found five years later to be “un­doubt­edly a forgery” af­ter sci­en­tific anal­y­sis dis­cov­ered traces of 20th-cen­tury ma­te­ri­als in the paint­ing not in use in the 17th cen­tury.

The auc­tion house re­funded the buyer and launched le­gal pro­ceed­ings against Mark Weiss Lim­ited, from whom it had bought the paint­ing. Mr Weiss vig­or­ously con­tests the claim and says fur­ther tests are re­quired.

Sotheby’s will seek a court or­der to ob­tain the find­ings of two Christie’s ex­perts who had ear­lier ex­am­ined the paint­ing and ex­pressed con­cerns.

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