A former Tory minister is tangled up in a legal battle with a London antiques dealer. The London Evening Standard‘s account makes one wonder whether the politician was just surprised when he discovered the way the antiques business really works:
Mr Mellor is suing the former directors and shareholders of Partridge Fine Art, in Bond Street, alleging “systematic fraud and counterfeiting” going back 20 years. In a High Court writ, the former national heritage secretary claims pieces of furniture were doctored to enhance their value. But the Partridge family has denied any wrongdoing and accused Mr Mellor of falsely claiming fraud to avoid paying the £1.3 million still owed by him and his business partners after they took a 51 per cent stake in the firm in 2005. They are threatening a libel suit against Mr Mellor.
Last month the Standard told how Mr Mellor claimed John Partridge, then chairman of the company, had knowingly sold a Winston Churchill landscape painting to a wealthy client despite being warned it was fake. Now further details of the case have emerged, including key allegations surrounding the sale of two 18th-century Boulle chests for £600,000 after extensive redecoration work that Mr Mellor described as “grotesque”. Partridge had bought the chests for just £120,000 before selling them to Victoria’s Secret boss Leslie H Wexner for five times the price.