Thursday, July 24, 2014

Court out

Can’t get enough of this series on art collectors posing on furniture. This time it’s Australian collector Louise McBride who is currently involved in a case against the auction house Christie’s. The trouble started when McBride purchased the Albert Tucker painting Faun and parrot on the advice of her friend (maybe ex friend now) art consultant Vivienne Sharpe and then goes to re-sell it. Oh, oh, not so easy. It now looks as though the painting might be a fake. Usually this situation plays out with oh-how-embarrasing-let’s-settle-out-of-court but McBride happens to be a barrister and she’s not backing off. This of course means the rest of us get to hear of all the machinations that go on backstage when the rich and art meet. Brilliant.

Top in the embarrassment stakes is the revelation that Christie’s catalogued the Tucker painting's provenance as having been purchased by a Mr Ivan O'Sullivan from the Tolarno Gallery in Melbourne in 1969. Whoops! Tolarno wasn’t even up and running until 1978. Next is the appearance of one Peter Grant. He owned the Irascible Gallery and it turns out that the Tucker passed through his hands at some stage. Unfortunately this is the same Peter Grant who we posted on some years ago in a story about Brett Whiteley, Charles Blackman and Robert Dickerson fakes. None of this did a lot for the integrity of the provenance of Faun and parrot

But Christie’s defence team has also had the opportunity to put the boot in. Now we’re hearing all about how McBride transferred works from her private collection into her pension fund which you are really not supposed to do. We’ll keep you posted but in the meantime you can read the most entertaining version of the story here.