Sotheby’s announces the sale of the Abrose Vollard trove of works found in a Parisian bank fault in 1979, 40 years after they were deposited there on the eve of World War II, but tied up in litigation until now. The bulk of the works will be sold in Paris on June 29th but this Andre Derain painting estimated at between £9 and £14m will be sold in London on June 22nd.
Sotheby’s press release tells the story of how the works came to be locked in a Paris vault:
The extraordinary trove of treasures was discovered in 1979 in a bank vault at the Société Générale in Paris. The works had been deposited there during 1939, soon after Vollard’s death, by Erich Slomovic, a young Yugoslav and associate to Vollard to whom the dealer had consigned the works. Soon after depositing the works, Slomovic fled to Yugoslavia where he died at the hands of the Nazis at the end of 1942. As a result, the contents of the vault remained untouched for 40 years. On 21st March 1979, the bank was permitted under French law to open the vault and to sell any contents of value in order to recoup some 40 years of unpaid storage fees. As a result, the collection was consigned for a sale to be held at Hotel Drouot in Paris in March 1981. The announcement of the sale, however, was swiftly followed by legal challenges as a result of which the sale was cancelled. Those challenges now finally resolved, the works will now be sold by agreement among the legal beneficiaries of the Vollard Estate and will finally make their long-anticipated appearance on the market at Sotheby’s sales in London and in Paris in June.