The Versace sale at Sotheby’s in London has gotten a lot of publicity, especially for
newly re-discovered Johann Zoffany. The Evening Standard takes it from there:
Portrait Of Major George Maule had been heralded by Sotheby’s only last week as a “newly discovered” masterpiece. The company gave a guide price of £40,000 to £60,000, although experts hoped it would fetch much more.
But when the Evening Standard published an article on Thursday about the auction and included a photograph of the Zoffany, descendants of Major Maule contacted authorities to suggest the painting had been stolen 30 years ago.
They telephoned the Art Loss Register, which identifies stolen works, and even sent a photograph of the portrait hanging in situ before it vanished. The Art Loss Register contacted Sotheby’s and with the permission of Versace’s family, including his sister Donatella, agreed to withdraw it. Art Loss Register spokeswoman Louisa von Loringhoven said today: “We are assisting the family to unravel the picture’s provenance to establish its rightful ownership.”
The painting was stolen 15 years before Versace bought it, the suspected theft is 30 years old.
Versace Star Lot Withdrawn Over Theft Fear (This Is London)