Sotheby's Contends Painting That Sold For $842,500 Is A Fake by Rebecca Hersher
Sotheby's says a 16th century Italian painting sold by the auction house for $842,500 in 2012 is actually a modern fake, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New York on Tuesday.
The auction house is suing the collector who consigned the painting, arguing that he must pay back at least the $672,000 he personally made on the sale. Sotheby's says its contract with the man, Lionel de Saint Donat-Pourrieres, allows the company to rescind the sale if a painting turns out to be a counterfeit.
The painting, titled St. Jerome, had previously passed through the hands of an art dealer under investigation for allegedly trafficking multiple forged works.
It was displayed at Vienna's national gallery before it was auctioned off. The gallery identified it as the work of a man known as Parmigianino, an Italian Renaissance master who worked in Parma, Italy, in the early 1500s.
By the time Sotheby's received it in 2011, disputes among art historians had led many to conclude that the painting might have been created by someone close to Parmigianino, but not necessarily by the artist himself. One scholar, the auction noted in its catalog, thought the painting might actually be by another Renaissance-era Italian, Michelangelo Anselmi.
But no one disputed the basic origin of the painting. It was more than 400 years old, everyone who examined it agreed. That is, until a man named James Martin turned his attention to St. Jerome....