Courthouse News Service has the background to a complaint filed by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York to have a Cimabue painting that was to have appeared in the auction house’s January Old Master sale forfeited by the consignors who seem to have spirited the work out of a safe deposit box in Geneva into another nearly 25 years ago. The work is part of an estate whose heirs are in conflict
Sotheby’s, which is not accused of wrongdoing, said in an email statement that it “cooperated fully with the government on this matter.”
“We first became aware of an issue with the painting when it was flagged during our due diligence process; we voluntarily pulled the painting from auction before the U.S. government was involved and held it pending further instructions from relevant authorities,” Sotheby’s said. “We have no comment on the substance of the allegations in the government’s complaint as Sotheby’s has had no involvement in the underlying dispute.”
The complaint details a mysterious Feb. 6, 1991 report that Geneva police provided to Interpol investigating the theft allegations, which appear to involve a squabble over an inheritance from the late Camille Marie Rose Aprosio.