Previous Posts: September 2020

Christie's Refute Accusations

September 1 2020

Image of Christie's Refute Accusations

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Telegraph have published an article relating to Christie's public rebuttal of what it calls false accusations from academics and protest movements as to the provenances of cultural artefacts passing through their hands.

The row began over accusations on social media in regards to the sale of a fifteenth century manuscript of the Qur'an which realised £7,016,250 (inc. fees) at auction earlier this June. Despite the work having a secure provenance back to the 1980s, the auction house has been accused of a lack of transparency.

In a statement the auction house said:

We are mindful that there are nuanced and complex debates around cultural property and wish to listen and engage appropriately. However, we are also concerned that there has been a rise in unfounded accusations, spread far and fast on social media, that question the legitimate and legal exchange of these objects and collecting areas.

As a marketplace we should all be concerned and ensure that the debate is balanced.


As previous court cases have highlighted, providing evidence seems to be key here. Auction houses undergo a strict measure of checks as part of their legally required 'due diligence' to ensure no known stolen property passes through their hands. However, as every picture researcher will know all too well from practical experience, finding evidence for provenance can be a very fruitless and time consuming process.

Picasso Vandal Sentenced

September 1 2020

Image of Picasso Vandal Sentenced

Picture: Artsy

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A twenty-year-old student who vandalised Picasso's Bust of a Woman (1944) at Tate Modern last December has been sentenced to eighteenth months in prison. The student, who attacked the work with metal padlocks, managed to punch through the protective glass and tear it off the wall. Fortunately, the judge managed to see through the defendant's claims that this was part of an elaborate piece of performance art. It also transpires that the painting was in fact a loan from a private collection. One can only imagine how awful that telephone call must have been.

Furthermore, artnet have reported:

In court, experts testified that repair efforts would take up to 18 months and cost over $450,000.

Although it seems that the damage was extensive, these costs do sound quite astronomical. It reminds me of the $487,625 figure that was supposedly spent on fixing a tear in a Picasso that was damaged at Christie's in 2018.

Ashmolean's 'Rembrandt' Upgraded

September 1 2020

Image of Ashmolean's 'Rembrandt' Upgraded

Picture: Ashmolean Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This story was published over the weekend explaining that the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has recently upgraded a painting that was 'long rejected as a fake and consigned to a museum basement'.

The painting of an old man was downgraded by the Rembrandt Research Project in 1981 who described the work as possibly being a late seventeenth century imitation. Recent dendrochronology undertaken by Peter Klein has suggested otherwise. Scientific investigations have shown that the wood panel was felled between 1618-28 and came from the same tree that produced panels for other works by Rembrandt and Jan Lievens. With this evidence in mind, the work has been upgraded to 'Workshop of Rembrandt'.

The painting will be added to the museum's Young Rembrandt exhibition, which is on display until 1st November 2020.

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