ART LOSS REGISTER ASSISTS WITH RECOVERY OF STOLEN PAINTINGS
JUDGE RULES DEALERS OPEN TO PROSECUTION IF CASH PAID AND NO QUESTIONS ASKED
£300,000 were awarded to Aziz Kurtha, a well known collector and lawyer, and author of a book on the artist.
of Kurtha’s collection had disappeared from storage in the 1990s and appeared at Bonhams in
2002 with no satisfactory provenance and after a settlement with the consigners they were
returned to him.
In today’s case, Marks claimed he had bought them from another dealer, Mr Demetriou, one of the consigners to Bonhams, and Demetriou claimed that he bought them from another dealer, Mr Martin.
2001 i.e. within the six year Statute of Limitation period which would give him clear title.
Martin relied on an alleged sale by a Miss Barnarse for £200 in cash for which he had no
contemporary evidence except a note which he dictated to her in April 2006.
Demetriou stated that he paid Martin £15,000 in cash for the two pictures, for which there was
no documentation, and planned to sell them on to Marks for £125,000. The Judge found that this sale was bogus and they were probably acting in partnership.
The missing pictures were registered with the Art Loss Register who undertook an investigation
into the alleged provenance.
In this important judgement for the art trade, Mr Justice Tugendhat stated “A dealer in
valuable works of art who pays in large amounts of cash, keeps no record, and asks no questions
as to provenance ..., exposes himself and those who buy from him, to other very serious risks,
including queries relevant to tax from HMRC.
a prosecution under the Proceeds of Crime Act (and) a civil recovery order.”
“This case is a classic example of stolen pictures being secreted by those who know they are
stolen and slowly introduced at the bottom end of the market.
The paintings in question are:
Francis Newton Souza, Still Life with Chalice with Host, 1953, 24 inches x 39 inches
Francis Newton Souza, Head of a Portuguese Navigator, 1961, 30 inches x 24 inches
The Art Loss Register (ALR) is the world’s largest private international database of lost and
stolen art, antiques and collectibles that provides recovery and search services to private
individuals, collectors, the art trade, insurers and law enforcement through technology and a
professionally trained staff of art historians.
The ALR was formed in 1991 through a partnership between leading auction houses and art trade associations, the insurance industry and the International Foundation of Art Research.
For further information contact:
The Art Loss Register
63-66 Hatton Garden
London EC1N 8LE
Tel: +44 (0)20 7841 5780 Fax: +44 (0)20 7841 5781 Email:artloss at artloss.com