The Wall Street Journal is reporting that David Nahmad has claimed sole ownership of the Monet Nympheas from 1914-1917 that the US government is attempting to seize from Jho Low in the 1MDB action.
David Nahmad, a dealer based in Monte Carlo, said he is the true owner of Monet’s blue-green pond scene, not Mr. Low, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in California.
Mr. Nahmad said in the affidavit that he won the Monet for about $13.6 million at a Sotheby’s London auction in February 2013. “My painting has been solely owned and possessed by me since its purchase up to the present time,” he said in the court document.He said he was keeping the painting in Switzerland.
Kelly Crow walks through the evidence the US presented of Low’s ownership, including emails confirming payment from Low to Nahmad for $2.5m of a $22.5m purchase price.
If that purchase never went through the deposit just adds to the profit the Nahmads made selling art to Low and buying it back later.
Crow speculates that Jho Low was a client of the Nahmads and the Monet was bought for him at auction. But that seems unlikely for two different reasons. The first is that the transactions took place more than a year apart. Had Low instructed the Nahmads to bid on his behalf, the deal would have been done some time in the Spring or Summer of 2013. Low’s email confirming his deposit is from April of 2014.
The pricing on the deal reveals the ownership better than the documentation. David Nahmad picked up this Nympheas at well below the estimate range. The purchase price with premium was £9m which means the hammer price was around £8m. The estimate range on the sale was £12-18m.
Switching from sterling to dollars for the sake of the second transaction we see that Nahmad paid $14m for the Monet and got a commitment from Low to buy it at $22.5m. That’s more than a 50% profit for holding the work for a year.
In the end, it doesn’t appear that Low completed the transaction leaving Nahmad owning the Monet for $11.5m (the $14m minus Low’s $2.5m) unless the Feds now go after Nahmad for the deposit money.