The Case of the Missed Titian
Source:Artinfo.com Date: 2010-02-27 Size:
For every auction seller, there is the persistent dream of bringing an old painting into an auction house and discovering that ancient hand-me-down is actually a hidden masterpiece.

 

For every auction seller, there is the persistent dream of bringing an old painting into an auction house and discovering that ancient hand-me-down is actually a hidden masterpiece.

When David Seton Pollok-Morris Dickson and his sister Susan Marjorie Glencorse Priestley brought their painting of Salome bearing the head of John the Baptist to Christie’s London in 1993, they no doubt had such hopes, but they readily accepted the house’s decision that it was a work from the “school of Titian” rather than the Renaissance master's hand. It sold at its reserve of £8,000.

Later, Dickson and Priestly learned that the work had been sold to a dealer in Milan, who had cleaned it and discovered it was, in fact, an authentic Titian. Its potential value at auction is believed to be as much as £4 million. The two collectors filed a lawsuit alleging that Christie’s had been negligent in attributing the painting — specialists there had told them that the work was not worth cleaning — and announced yesterday that they had reach an out-of-court settlement with the auctioneer.

Interestingly, specialists at Christie’s had first pegged the work as a potential masterpiece. “Worth studying, could be wreck of an original!?” one of the specialists wrote in the original assessment. On further review, that assessment was dismissed, and though the amount of the settlement was not released, it is likely to have been a formidable figure.

[Editor] Elemy Liu

    Artintern