Monday, 16 August 2021

Frustrating Doing Antiquities Deals


Paul Peachey, 'Qatari sheikh loses battle over $5.2m ‘fake’ ancient artefacts' The National Aug 10, 2021
A member of Qatar's ruling family has lost a legal claim against a fine arts company after paying $5.2 million for two ancient statues that he later claimed to be worthless modern fakes. A company run by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, a cousin of the emir and a well-known international collector, bought a marble bust for $3m from a Swiss dealer. The bust was said to be Alexander the Great portrayed as Heracles, the son of Zeus, king of the Greek gods. The 30 centimetre-high bust was described as being more than 2,000 years old. But four years after buying the statue, the Qataris concluded that it was a modern piece and "more or less worthless", according to London’s High Court. The Doha-based Qatar Investment and Projects Holding Company (Qipco) also said that another reputed 1,600-year-old piece bought a year earlier from the same company for $2.2m – a statuette of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike – was also a modern remake and worth a tiny fraction of the price paid. The sellers, Geneva-based Phoenix Ancient Arts, maintained that the two pieces were genuine but negotiated a deal to ensure the future goodwill of Qipco and its chief executive, Sheikh Hamad, in the exclusive market for high-value antiquities. They agreed to exchange the two pieces for six other items amounting to a similar value. But the deal was never concluded after five of the replacements that were to be shipped from the US were held there by customs officers because of an undisclosed breach of export rules.
Awkward. That having failed, negotiations between the two parties continued, but when no agreement was reached, Qipco launched legal action in London's High Court. The case seems to have been thrown out because Qipco and Sheikh Hamad had "failed to grasp the nettle of what had to be done in the time permitted". An appeal was rejected. It seems time is of the essence, as is reported here, it seems that the buyers took four years to think over the purchase and decided that the bust and statuette weren't quite what they were looking for and try to get their money back. When they did they reportedly could not put the court case together in time. How do you "prove" something's a fake? If there is no material evidence (and no paperwork0, the style is "wrong"? Who is to say?

Sheikh Al Thani has had this problem before, he was so sure of what he was buying from Ariadne Galleries in December 2013 and July 2014 when he bought two ancient mosaics worth almost £300,000 which he later claimed were fakes (Tristan Kirk, Sheikh who entertained Queen sues gallery over ‘forged’ mosaics' News of teh World 3rd September 2020):

Legal papers lodged reveal the art firm — which has galleries in Mayfair and New York — is being sued for alleged breach of contract and misrepresentation over the sales. The claim concerns the sale of mosaics named Cupids At The Grape Harvest and Eros Hunting With A Stag. The writ states: “Both mosaics are inauthentic and/or forgeries. They were purchased for $200,000 and $150,000 respectively, equating to a total purchase price of $350,000.”
The sheikh, a cousin of the Emir of Qatar, is a prodigious art collector and chief executive of the Qatar Investment and Projects Development Holding Company (Qipco). His family’s base in London is Dudley House in Park Lane, where they have played host to the Queen and Prince Charles. READ MORE

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