Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Portrait Withdrawn from Versace Sale Over Theft Claim

Not quite books, but fascinating anyway:

Antiques Trade Gazette reported yesterday that a 1783 portrait of Major George Maule by Johann Zaffany was withdrawn from Sotheby's 18 March sale of the contents of Gianni Versace's Lake Como villa after Maule family members saw a photo of the portrait and recognized it as having been stolen from their London home three decades ago.

Versace purchased the painting from a dealer in the mid-1990s, and estate executors and the Art Loss Registry are working to unravel the provenance. Maule family members have been able to provide a photograph showing the portrait in their home prior to the 1979 burglary.

Sotheby's experts described the painting as "previously untraced and uncatalogued" and estimated that it might sell for £40,000-60,000. The entire sale brought in more than £7m.

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