The New York Post has an interesting case that has appeared in federal court. A doctor from New Jersey bought two works that are nearly 1000 years old in 2005 and 2007 from Christie’s. Now Christie’s says it cannot resell them because the works lack sufficient documentation to establish their provenance:
“I find it interesting that they had no compulsion in validating provenance when selling the pieces but when it’s time to [resell] . . . through them, they have some kind of trepidation in reaffirming the provenance,” said [Dr.] Waran’s lawyer Darren Oved.
Christie’s due diligence and documentary requirements are under constant review. In the very sensitive area of cultural property we work in consultation with UNESCO and police agencies worldwide to ensure that our standards are at all times some of the highest in the market. As these policies evolve in line with UNESCO and other agencies, this means that that we may have to decline some items – and this includes items which may be authentic and have perfectly good provenance but which do not satisfy our updated internal requirements of documentary proof. Where that happens, it is only right that our policy must be applied consistently whether or not the works have been previously offered by us for sale.