'Fake or Fortune?' Monet owner loses Paris court case

May 7 2014

Image of 'Fake or Fortune?' Monet owner loses Paris court case

Picture: David Joel/BBC

We featured the above painting in the first series of 'Fake or Fortune?', as a possible Monet. The picture had been excluded from the Monet catalogue raisonne published by the Wildenstein foundation in Paris, and the owner David Joel, wanted our help to prove that his picture was right. For the programme we came up with a mass of evidence to show that it was painted by Monet, including an illustration of the picture in the artist's obituary in Le Figaro in 1926 and provenance going back to Monet's dealer Georges Petit. We also had expert opinion that it was by Monet from the likes of the late Professor John House of the Courtauld, who had published extensively on the artist. Anyway, the Wildenstein's said 'non', and that was that.

Then, David Joel decided he would try and sue the Wildensteins, and force them to change their mind. Personally, I think such cases are always a mistake - how can you expect a judge to rule on an attribution, and why should art historical opinions be subjected to a court ruling? And in this case it was a big ask, especially being a plucky Brit in a French court ,against one of France's most important art historical establishments. Another 'non' was inevitable.

And so it came to pass - yesterday, Liberation reported that a Paris court has ruled against Joel. There is only a short news story, but it mentions a 'fake signature' (rubbish) and a possible attribution to an artist called Louis Latouche (more rubbish). It's a Monet! I'd happily buy it as such.

Update - I suppose we must hope the French don't destroy the picture as a 'fake', as happened to Martin Lang's 'Chagall'.

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