This bizarre story from New York Social Diary has also appeared in the New York Post and some local papers. It involves some nuns, some colluding art dealers and a missing Bouguerueau that eventually sold for $5 million even though the convent only got $450,000:
In late 2004, the nuns decided to evaluate for possible sale, a deteriorating old oil painting they had in their chapel. The piece in question eventually turned out to be a lost masterpiece by William A. Bouguereau, Notre-Dame des Anges, which was last shown publicly in this country at the World’s Columbian Exhibition held in Chicago in 1893.
Not knowing what they had, they hired Mark Lasalle, an art dealer based in Albany, New York, to provide an appraisal of the painting declaring its auction value or fair market value. His initial appraisal of the painting was for $150,000 but he recommended that it be restored by the Williamstown Art Conservation Center of Williamstown, Mass.
This the nuns did and after several years, toward the end of the centers restoration work, Lassalle in brought experts from Sotheby’s in New York City, who valued it at an estimated $2.5 million at auction. After Zaplin ﬂipped it for about $2.5 million, the painting ultimately sold through an art dealer in Dallas, Texas named Brian Roughton for reportedly over $5 million.
The whole scheme came to light because one of the dealers involved in the scam went to the convent and gave an affadavit, surely only motivated by remorse.
Seller Beware (New York Social Diary)
Con (vent) Artist (NY Post)