Fakes, fakes everywhere? (ctd.)

April 17 2019

Image of Fakes, fakes everywhere? (ctd.)

Picture: via TAN

The Sotheby's/Weiss/Fairlight trial has concluded in London's High Court, but, reports Vincent Noce in TAN, we'll need to wait till the summer to get judgement. It appears that over the two weeks, there wasn't the contest over the attribution that we might have hoped for. Rather, argument focused on the contracts between the various parties. Lawyers for Fairlight (the art dealing vehicle of the collector and financier David Kowitz, which owned 50% of the Hals painting) argued that since Sotheby's contract was only signed with Weiss, Fairlight should not be pursued for any monies by Sotheby's, even if Fairlight ultimately benefited from the $11.75m sale of the picture.

Fairlight is also being pursued by Weiss for half of his $4.2m settlement with Sotheby's. On the face of it, there seems to be a competing logic here; Weiss's lawyers would appear to be of the view that his settlement with Sotheby's covered 100% of the transaction - in other words, that the Sotheby's contract was only with Weiss, and not partly with Fairlight - hence them seeking a sum from Fairlight commensurate with the initial shareholding in the picture. But Sotheby's appear to take the view that their $4.2m settlement with Weiss only represents half the transaction - or at least, as much of that half as they thought they were likely to achieve -and that Kowitz is liable for the remainder.

Whatever one thinks of the picture, or the legal issues involved, would it not be extremely unfortunate if Mr Kowitz ended up having to pay both Sotheby's and Weiss to the extent that has been claimed in court?

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