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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, "Sleep" Retailed at 1500% Profit, Now That's Criminal !!

Expert finds stolen $80,000 painting at Palm Beach fair

An Art Loss Register art historian helped recover a painting stolen from the Buffalo Club at the Palm Beach Fine Arts and Antique Fair earlier this month. The painting, titled "Sleep," was painted by James Carroll Beckwith and reported stolen in 1995. (February 26, 2008)

By Erika Pesantes South Florida Sun-Sentinel
February 27, 2008

A stolen painting recovered at the Palm Beach-America's International Fine Art & Antique Fair is due back in the hands of its rightful owner Monday.

Art historian Erin Culbreth of The Art Loss Register saw the 101-year-old oil painting by J. Carroll Beckwith during a check of pieces in the fair before it opened earlier this month at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.

The international organization, with offices in Manhattan, lists about 200,000 stolen and missing artworks worldwide in its databases.

The painting, titled Sleep, was reported missing in 1995 by the Buffalo Club. The New York club would not comment Tuesday on its recovery.

The painting is at the Register's Manhattan office until Monday, said Chris Marinello, executive director and general counsel for The Art Loss Register. Then it goes back to the Buffalo Club.

Anne Frances Moore Fine Art Services purchased the artwork in 2005 for $6,000 from auctioneer Doyle New York, Marinello said. Anne Frances Moore had an $80,000 price tag on the painting for the fair, but it was flagged and pulled before opening day on Feb. 1.

"It's a phenomenal work and everyone that had seen it said they wanted to buy it," Marinello said.

The 17-by-21-inch painting shows a young slumbering woman with red lips and cascading curls. Beckwith was a significant Missouri-born artist who drew influences from Europe and worked alongside John Singer Sargent. His works have been showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The fair hired the Register to cross-check about 2,000 fine arts and antiquities against ones in its databases. The fair featured about 400,000 pieces of art from galleries in more than a dozen countries. A vetting committee of museum curators, art scholars and experts also verified the authenticity of the art.

"It's an important part of the service we offer to buyers who come to the fair," its director, Michael Mezzatesta, said. "I'm just happy that we were able to help recover the painting and see it get back to its rightful owner."

The Register lists 259 missing or stolen art pieces from Florida. It has worked on 80 cases in South Florida, including last month's theft of the painting Our Lady of Czestochowa from Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in West Palm Beach. That painting remains missing.

Sleep is the first stolen painting that has shown up at the Palm Beach-America's International Fine Art & Antique Fair since its inception 12 years ago, said Gary Libby, chairman of its vetting committee and director emeritus of the Daytona Museum of Arts & Sciences. This find underscores how important it is for fair officials to scrutinize the authenticity of artworks, he said.
"Because imagine if someone buys a $100,000 painting and in three months there's a knock on the door," Libby said. "The whole thing [could be] a nightmare of problems."

Erika Pesantes can be reached at or 561-243-6602.

Art Hostage Comments:

Credit is due to the Art Loss Register for this and other recoveries when moronic stolen art handlers try and sell them via Auction.

The Art Loss Register is fast becoming a victim of its own success, why ?

Once the criminal world realises that to try and sell stolen paintings via auction or without informing the new buyer about the current status, i.e. listed as stolen on the Art Loss Register, is much akin to offering themselves up as sacrificial lambs led to the inevitable slaughter.

The more publicity about how stolen artworks are traced via auction then the less likely thieves or handlers will use the auction avenue.

So, in the future the recoveries will few and far between.

All is not lost for the Art Loss Register as they can still continue to police the trade and charge a subscription for that service.

To matters at hand.

This Beckwith painting "Sleep" sold at Doyles, New York Auction House for $6,000 to a dealer, who then marks it up by 1500% for retail sale.

I would say this is sheer greed on the part of the dealer but the marking up by as much as 20 times trade price is common.

What this means to art collectors is they lose up to 95% of the retail price straight away.

So, an artwork priced at $1million is actually worth $50,000.

Perhaps the art collecting public may ponder this fact before purchasing an artwork from a dealer.

Furthermore, lets assume an elderly Lady or Gentleman has a painting that they consign to Doyles or any other auction house.

The painting sells for $6,000, after deductions the vendor receives around $4,500 from the auctioneer.
Then the painting is offered at an Antiques Fair by the auction buyer for $80,000 plus.

A fair deal for the elderly Lady or Gentleman, or a tale of a morally repugnant trade riddled by greed that See's the original owners of art paid a pittance, even in so-called legitimate deals.

What is a fair mark up for art and antiques ?????????????????????? ?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You fail to take into account that when the painting was purchased at auction, no one knew that the sitter was Evelyn Nesbit, nor about her relationship with the painter. By putting the painting in context (and it is a extensive and fascinating story), the value increases. This was a scholarly contribution by the dealer. Does this count for nothing?