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The former owner of a disputed Caravaggio has lost his battle for compensation from an auction house. Lancelot William Thwaytes sold "The Cardsharps" at Sotheby's in 2006 for £46,000 after being told it was by a follower of the Old Master.

The new owner subsequently insured the painting for millions - after a close friend, an art expert, claimed it was in fact an original Caravaggio. Sotheby's maintains the painting is not by the artist.

Mr. Thwaytes attempted to sue Sotheby's of London, for giving him negligent advice after the new owner had the artwork valued at £10m. Lawyers for Mr. Thwaytes accused Sotheby's of not consulting enough top experts or sufficiently testing the painting before the 2006 sale.

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Tuesday, 05 August 2014 10:43

Judge Awards Rauschenberg Trustees $24.6 Million

A Florida judge has awarded $24.6m to three trustees of the Robert Rauschenberg Revocable Trust in a long-running legal dispute with the Rauschenberg Foundation that dates back to 2011.

The trustees sued the foundation for compensation for their “extraordinary services” in administering the trust. Under Florida law, trustees are entitled to “a reasonable fee” should the terms of the trust not specify their remuneration.

The trustees, Bennet Grutman, Darryl Pottorf and Bill Goldston, argued that they deserved a combined sum in the region of $51m to $55m. The foundation argued that this figure should be around $375,000 only.

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State Farm Insurance is suing French art dealer Alfred DeSimone for either discarding or losing an original lithograph by the colorful French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). The lost work, Artistide Bruant Dans Son Cabaret, 1893, was part of a series of three posters used to promote French cabaret singer and comedian Artistide Bruant (1851-1925) around Paris in the late 1800s. The lithograph remains one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s most recognizable images.

State Farm is seeking $103,000 in damages from DeSimone for the centuries-old lithograph, which was bought by the insurance company’s client, Thomas Rosensteel, in 2006. Rosensteel purchased the work as an investment, but never ended up hanging it. While looking for a buyer, Rosensteel gave the lithograph to DeSimone for safekeeping, agreeing to pay him a fee once the work was sold. Rosentsteel found a buyer in 2010 and when he went to pick up the work from DeSimone, it was missing. DeSimone claims that the lithograph may have been put in a mailing tube and either sent to someone else or discarded. Rosensteel filed an insurance claim with State Farm who paid $103,109 to him; the company is now seeking compensation for the claim.

DeSimone, who has been experiencing financial troubles, has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing in the Toulouse-Lautrec case. A judge will review the lawsuit on April 25, 2013.

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England’s British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, which closed in 2008, is in hot water after nearly 150 works that were lent to the museum while it was still open have been deemed missing. To make matters worse, a number of the pieces were sold at auction without their owners’ permission.

Most of the museum’s collection has been turned over to the Bristol city council, which is carrying out a full audit. In addition, trustees of the museum are in negotiations with the eight displeased owners to work out compensation agreements. While no arrests have been made, trustees of the museum have been involved in an ongoing dispute with the former director, Gareth Griffiths, over the missing works.

Among the 144 works that have disappeared is a nineteenth-century oil painting belonging to Lord Caldecote. Caldecote’s father, a well-known engineer and industrialist, lent the work by maritime master, Thomas Buttersworth, to the museum. After his father’s death, Caldecote asked for the painting to be returned. Sadly, the painting’s whereabouts are unknown as Christie’s sold it for almost $100,000 back in 2008.

There are no reports of personal profits from the sales and it is believed that the mix-up occurred because it was unclear whether objects had been given to the museum or were there on loan.

The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum opened in 2002 and aimed to tell the story of Britain’s colonial past through objects. While the institution was initially lauded, it was unable to attract enough visitors to keep it afloat. Plans to move the museum to London were scrapped after the country fell on tough economic times.

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