Remember how the Panama Papers were supposed to rip the lid off the international art world? Well, they didn’t. All we got was disputed Modigliani that remains, well, disputed. And then there was the tantalizing story of the Wilton Trading entity that turned out to be the vehicle for Basil Goulandris’s sister when she sold some paintings that had been in her brother’s legendary collection.
The revelation hasn’t done much to unravel the real mystery of the Goulandris collection, where it went and whether some of the widow’s relatives were left out of being beneficiaries.
The Wall Street Journal tries to make hay with this story but it remains as opaque as ever:
Documents leaked as part of the Panama Papers in April may end up having a bearing on the case: They reveal that three paintings put up for auction at Sotheby’s in 2005 by anonymous sellers were actually offered by Mr. Goulandris’s younger sister. The paintings—a Bonnard and two Chagalls—were part of the group of 83 paintings that Basil Goulandris allegedly sold in 1985. If the sale never happened, then Mr. Goulandris’s sister did not have the right to sell them, according to Ms. Zaimis.
Of the 83 masterpieces that sit at the center of this dispute, only a few have even been seen in the past two decades, stoking curiosity about their whereabouts. Of that group, Mr. Koutsomallis, the couple’s art expert, told investigators that he could only pinpoint the location of 29 works because he said the widow had reclaimed them from her husband’s relatives and held them in another foundation called Sirina in Liechtenstein, according to Swiss court documents. But Ms. Zaimis and her lawyer say they don’t think Ms. Goulandris ever arranged for Sirina to own any of her art, including van Gogh’s “The Olive Pickers.” Today, dealers say that painting alone could sell for as much as $200 million.