'Fake or Fortune?' Monet owner loses Paris court case (ctd.)

January 6 2016

Image of 'Fake or Fortune?' Monet owner loses Paris court case (ctd.)

Picture: David Joel/BBC

As I mentioned back in 2014, the owner of a painting we featured in series 1 of 'Fake or Fortune?' - a disputed Monet - attempted to sue the Wildenstein art dynasty over their refusal to 'accept' the painting as a Monet. The owner, David Joel, lost his case. But he appealed, and just before Christmas the Paris court of appeal gave a definitive verdict in favour of the Wildensteins, and against the painting. 

It's important to remember, however, that this case tells us more about the truly bonkers French system of authenticating paintings than it does about the actual authenticity of the painting in question (which I continue to believe is by Monet). In France, the 'right' to attribute paintings depends not one jot on any skill or knowledge of the artist in question, but on whether you happen to have the 'droit de moral', which can be inherited and generally passed around to whoever the artist or their descendants likes. And it's more or less impossible to argue in a French court against this practice, especially if you're a plucky English former Royal Navy officer like David Joel.

Update - Georgina Adams covers the story here in The Art Newspaper.

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