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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

Did Wildenstein NY sell a fake Bonnard? Art authentication is disputed.

Updated: Jul 21, 2019

An "ingenious falsification" . For example, Greenway II LLC, a consortium of American collectors, describes Still Life as a fruit basket in a lawsuit filed on May 5 in the New York court. The work was sold to them in 1985 by Wildenstein & Co, a famous New York gallery specializing in Impressionism, which then presented the painting as an achievement by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947). 

Three decades later, an expert commissioned by Greenway II LLC determined that the work was not included in the catalog raisonné of the French artist. The group then demanded the repayment of the painting for $ 275,000 from Wildenstein & Co, as well as a compensation of $ 50,000.

When the sale of Still Life to the fruit basket on June 21, 1985, the gallery provided documentation purporting to authenticate the painting whose origin was set around 1930. It was stated that the work had belonged to Morris W. Haft's collection, then that of Ogden Phipps in 1965. 

A pedigree that has not fully reassured the actors of the Greenway II LLC. In anticipation of an auction, the consortium sent the still life to the Dauberville family's experts.

In 1974, Jean Dauberville and his son Henry published Pierre Bonnard's catalog raisonné. Not only was the painting sold by the Wildenstein & Co gallery not mentioned in the catalogue, but after examining the work, the descendant of the family, Guy-Patrice Dauberville, declared it unauthorized in a letter of October 26th.

According to the terms of the complaint, "As a major merchant of Bonnard's work, it is obvious that Wildenstein was in possession of the catalog raisonné, or at least had access to it [...] not to warn the buyer of non-referencing. of the work is an omission that is fraudulent "

For his part, Steven R. Schindler, the lawyer of the Wildenstein, denies en bloc.  "This work [...] has an unmistakable provenance. The allegations of the prosecution are without foundation, " he defended to the artnet news website .

Le Journal des Arts, ...

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