Sotheby's Wins Caravaggio Negligence Suit
London -- The court case involving a painting by the Italian baroque master Caravaggio -- which Sotheby’s sold for a fraction of its value -- has been dismissed by a judge as without merit.
The painting was sold in 2006 for £42,000 and is now thought to be worth around £10 million.
Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media are always on the lookout for auction treasures like a mislabeled Caravaggio.
The previous owner of the Caranvaggio, Bill Thwaytes, of Penrith in Cumbria, accused the auction house of "professional negligence” when the artwork was misattributed to a follower of the master by Sotheby's team of experts.
Sotheby's had maintained throughout the trial that the painting was not by the artist.
Lawyers acting for Mr Thwaytes stated that Sotheby’s; "should have done more to determine whether it was by Caravaggio, who died in 1610”.
The canvas titled 'The Cardsharps' depicts a nobleman falling victim to two cheats at a card table. In 1962, it had been purchased by the Thwaytes family for £140, ostensibly as a copy.
In early 2006 -- prior to accepting the painting's consignment at auction -- Sotheby's was given the task of valuing the work. Auction house experts concluded that the painting was a copy of a painting that is on display at the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
No strangers to Caravaggio, the Thwaytes family had previously sold a genuine work by the master, 'The Musicians', to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York back in the 1950s.
Thwaytes had come to believe that his version of 'The Cardsharps' was also an original and not a copy created by a follower. Sotheby's disagreed, persuaded him to consign the 'anonymous' piece, and then auctioned it for £42, 000.
The judge at London's High Court ruled that Sotheby's had "reasonably come to the view that the quality of the painting was not sufficiently high to indicate that it might be by Caravaggio”.
They also stated that leading experts had attested to it not being by the artist and that it was the unanimous opinion of Sotheby's Old Masters painting department that it was an anonymous copy.
At the 2006 Sotheby's auction, the canvas was purchased by the late art collector Sir Denis Mahon, who took a chance that it might be real. The painting was subsequently cleaned and restored.
Mahon later declared that the painting was indeed by Caravaggio and dated it to 1595. The Italian scholar, Mina Gregori, agreed with his opinion, pegging the value at £10 million.
The painting is currently on loan to the Museum of the Order of St John at Clerkenwell in London.
Today's homepage Featured Art Video presents the top Caravaggio paintings, so that if one comes to auction for a pittance, you won't pass it up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vypU417vc2o&sns=em