OPINION

A lady named Marguerite

When Kathimerini revealed the seedy side of the art market a few weeks ago, it certainly did not expect to deliver a major blow to forgers and irresponsible traders. For years we have known that forged artworks or works whose origins are somewhat hazy have been bought and sold at even the most prestigious auction houses. We know that the people who buy these works – at no small cost – do not want to hear that they have been tricked. We know that according to auction rules, the buyer accepts the item «as is,» placing his trust in the assurances of the sellers. If he wants to prove the authenticity of the work he must do so at his own expense by calling in experts, whom, however, must first be approved by the sellers. We know that some buyers do not do their homework before making such significant purchases and we also know how audacious forgers and traffickers can be. What we could never have imagined is that prestigious auction houses, which have made significant profits from Greek art collectors, would refuse to acknowledge a mistake. Kathimerini revealed that the painting «Lady in White» (1907-1913), said to be by Dimitris Galanis, is a copy of the painting «Marguerite Kelsey» (1928) by Meredith Frampton and that the original painting is on permanent display at the Tate in London. Our research also revealed that a similar piece was making the rounds at the same time. Bonhams withdrew the painting from the May 20 auction to have it reassessed, and rightly so. Now, however, without presenting any convincing evidence, it is saying that there is nothing to suggest this painting is a fake. Thankfully they haven’t tried to say that Frampton’s painting is a forgery. A healthy market, any market, must be governed by rules and good faith. Buyers accept this and put up million of euros. What about the sellers though?