Remember the case of the Bouguereau bought from some unsuspecting nuns for nearly $500,000 and sold for $1m that provoked a round of howling and fraud claims? Well, the dealers involved in the transaction have just won their case:
After less than a day of deliberations, the jurors rejected the sisters’ claims of fraud and other charges against [Mark] Zaplin and his co-defendant, Mark LaSalle, a New York art appraiser. They approved unspecified punitive damages for both defendants. The jury will reconvene Jan. 24 to determine the amount.
The jury also awarded Zaplin a $75,000 judgment in a related third-party defamation action against a New York art dealer who filed an affidavit in the case accusing Zaplin of being a “straw buyer.” Paul Dumont claimed the appraiser and Zaplin were involved in a plot to dupe the sisters and turn a large profit.
But that’s not the interesting part. Integral to the defense against fraud is the dealer’s explanation of what value he added to the picture and it goes to the very heart of the issue of museums and the art market:
Zaplin then spent $5,000 to finish lining the painting and bought a $40,000 French frame from the 1880s that made the 60-inch by 90-inch artwork look like it had come from the Louvre, he said. He also arranged for the painting to be put on display at the Dallas Museum of Art. Then, Zaplin said, “I got a Dallas dealer to get a Dallas customer enamored of the fact that [the painting] was going into this museum. That put it over the top. That was the work I did.”
New York Jury Rejects Nuns Claims Against Santa Fe Gallery Owner (Santa Fe New Mexican)