Christie's “considering its options” after Russian painting setback
Judge orders auction house to refund £1.7m to buyer of Odalisque
By Riah Pryor. Web only
Published online: 01 August 2012
Christie's is standing by its attribution of a painting to the Russian artist Boris Kustodiev, which is at the centre of a long-running authenticity battle after a judge in
ruled last week (28 July) that “the likelihood is that Odalisque was not
painted by Kustodiev”. London
Christie's was ordered to refund £1.7m to Aurora Fine Arts, a company owned by the Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, which purchased the work in 2005. The judge cleared the auction house of claims of negligence and misrepresentation.
A spokesman for the auction house says: “We are surprised and disappointed,” adding that it stands by its attribution to Kustodiev. When asked whether the company would appeal he says it is “considering its options.”
The painting is dated 1919 and depicts a nude woman asleep. It is known to have been exhibited in
Riga, Latvia, in 1932 and first sold at Christie's salesroom for
£19,000 in 1989. It was sold again by the auctioneer to Aurora Fine Arts in
2005. Doubts are thought to have been raised by an art dealer soon afterwards.
By 2010, London
had filed its lawsuit. Aurora
During the 20-day hearing, Alisa Borisovna Lyubimova, a research fellow at the State Russian Museum, St Petersburg, said she was “almost 200% sure” that the work is not genuine. The judge also noted in his summing up that she would not change her view even if shown contemporary documents tending to suggest authenticity. Max Rutherston, who works as a consultant for Bonhams, argued that the quality of work by artists is not always consistently high and concluded that the painting was by Kustodiev's hand.