The Australian art market is still dogged by the case of dealer Peter Gant who was accused of trafficking in fakes. Now comes the story of a disgruntled client who believes his Whiteley—bought for $2.5m after Whiteley’s prices had reached a new peak in 2007—was purchased from Gant and may not be what it pretends to be:
In November 2007, the banker turned to the well-known auctioneer and Melbourne art adviser Anita Archer to help him buy some serious art. In return for a commission, Archer was to identify works that would make a good investment. Archer soon told Pridham she could get him a large painting referred to as Lavender Bay, 1988, signed and dated ”Brett Whiteley 1988”. […]
Now Pridham is suing Archer for selling him an “artwork that was not by the artist Brett Whiteley”, and for allegedly failing to exercise all the “reasonable care, diligence and skill” required to verify and advise him on the painting’s provenance, according to his statement of claim to the NSW Supreme Court. Pridham wants his $2.5 million back, plus money to cover the loss of the capital appreciation of the work, and what he spent insuring the painting and getting experts to check its authenticity. […]
As Pridham tells the story, Archer told him the painting’s provenance was “impeccable”, that she had been trying for some time to buy it from the Village Roadshow director Robert Le Tet who had bought it direct from Whiteley in 1988 and had it hanging in his North Sydney office. Archer denies all this.
Pridham alleges Archer told him she had spoken to the original framer, Brett Liechtenstein, known for many years of collaboration with Whiteley, “who asserted that he could clearly remember framing the picture in 1988”. But Pridham goes on to say Liechtenstein refused to verify its provenance because he had not been shown the painting.
Big Blue Sparked by Doubt Over Whiteley Painting (Sydney Morning Herald)