The Jan Schoonhoven work that was sold at Sotheby’s this Spring despite having been stolen from a Dutch museum the year before has caused some consternation between the auction house and its compliance service, The Art Loss Register when the stolen work was turned on its side and auctioned with an altered title.
ALR says the altered title did not trigger an alert. But Sotheby’s hasn’t not explained whether the work was sold with any documentation of its authenticity or provenance. Nor has anyone explained if there is a work entitled R69-39 that should have been referenced. Instead, the sale came undone when the buyer simply looked at the work and saw that the identifying marks had been crudely changed:
At a resulting auction on June 27, “R69-39” fetched a price of 182,500 pounds (213,000 euros, $285,000) and was combinedly bought by the Borzo in Amsterdam and London’s Mayor Gallery.
Borzo’s Van Rosmalen became suspicious looking at pictures of the work sent by colleagues in London.
“Looking at the pictures I was sent it is very clear that the title on the “2” on the back had been changed to a “9”, therefore R69-32 became R69-39,” he said.
How Stolen Dutch Art Fooled Even Sotheby’s Expert Eyes (AFP/Global Post)