Archive for “Amedeo Modigliani”

Ransom for a Modigliani

New York, 14 February 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA).

Modigliani is really sparking controversy these days. The last to date is quite unexpected. A French art dealer is demanding financial compensation – a more elegant word for “ransom” – to disclose information concerning the origin of a Modigliani painting. Let us recall the extravagant episodes of this new affair dealing with the work titled Portrait of a Woman.

On 12 February 2012, Asher Edelman, chairman of ArtAssure Ltd, serving as consultant in this new Modigliani case, released the elements of the complaint registered at the Supreme Court of the New York State by Edinburgh Investments Limited (EIL), current possessor of the portrait, against Sidney Tenoudji, son of a former owner.

Michael D. Dingman, representative of EIL, purchased the painting in 1988 from a New York-based gallery for $1.44m. In 2010, he asked Sotheby’s to value the works of his collection for insurance. Now Sotheby’s experts expressed serious reservation as for the portrait’s authenticity, asking further research to be led concerning its origin. Indeed, not only did the market overflow with fake Modigliani paintings worldwide, but the Ambrogio Ceroni catalogue raisonné – a true reference – did not mention this portrait (in spite of its being mentioned in Joseph Lanthemann’s, published in 1970).

For Michael Dingman, it was the beginning of a paper chase. He first solicited Marc Restellini, director of the Pinacothèque, Paris, and Christopher Gaillard from Gurr Johns in Manhattan, who first valued the work $12m. In his quest, Dingman discovered the identity of the previous owner, thanks to the Smithsonian Institute. Edmond Cohen Tenoudji, famous French cinema producer and art collector, specialised in 19th and 20th-century art, acquired the portrait in 1958 to Parisian gallery David & Garnier. Sotheby’s New York thus sent the painting in Paris, at the Wildenstein Institute. The portrait finally arrived at Sotheby’s Paris, still un-authenticated.

It was then things – that already looked pretty bad – embittered. Indeed, Thom Ingram, representative of the current owner began to search for the heirs of Edmond Cohen Tenoudji, in order to find evidence of the painting’s origin. He then contacted the son of the collector, Sidney Tenoudji. In the beginning of July 2012, the latter’s lawyer informed him of Ingram’s leading inquiry into the company’s historical archives. He soon assured he had found a series of documents establishing the origin of the work, including the authentication certificate from the Galerie David & Garnier, signed on the back of a photograph, as well as a letter establishing the identity of the former owner who inherited the painting in the 1930s. Now on 19 July the lawyer finally stated that he would not disclose their content and that Sidney Tenoudji, after further reflection, considered that these documents’ value should be calculated based on the portrait’s worth, and asserted he would give them away only if compensated by a certain percentage of the painting’s selling price. The heir, smelling a good deal, thus valued the painting $30m, and demanded $5m to disclose the documents, falling to $500,000 after numerous negotiations. Some months later, Marc Restellini was allowed to inquire into the documents in order to authenticate them, in presence of Sidney Tenoudji.

But there was a sudden development on 13 December 2012. The day before the expert’s assessment, Sidey Tenoudji changed position and claimed he would not go, thus questioning the reliability of Marc Retsellini’s judgment, certain that he would not authenticate the documents. Dingman/EIL thus referred to the New York Court, still awaiting the pieces promised by Sidney Tenoudji. For if doubt is allowed when it comes to the painting’s authenticity, what is certain is that the documents without the painting are worthless.

Modigliani and Picasso at Bonhams

London, 2 January 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA).

On 7 February, Amedeo Modigliani is expected to lead the Impressionist and Modern Art auction organised by Bonhams in London. His painting Jeune fille aux cheveux noirs, from the collections of the Laurence S. Rockefeller Fund, is estimated between £700,000 and £1 million. This enigmatic portrait of a women in sleek silhouette and with a deep gaze marked the artist’s career and is now particularly sought after in the market. Bonhams hopes to receive the same success brought by Portrait de femme in June 2011, that was awarded £1.8 million.

Picasso’s works should also draw the attention of buyers, particularly with the oil painting Notre-Dame de Paris, estimated between £700,000 and £1 million. Other highlights include Raoul Dufy’s painting, Atelier de la rue Jeanne-d’Arc, nu couché au passant (estimated £250,000-350,000); Futebol by Candido Portinari (estimated £120,000-180,000) and Rene Magritte’s bronze Le puits de vérité (estimated £150,000-200,000). Emphasis will also be put on the colourful and sunny landscapes by Carlos Nadal as five of his paintings will be displayed at the auction, all estimated between £3,000-30,000.

Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac, Marc Chagall, Lyonel Feininger, Bernard Buffet, Marino Marini, and Man Ray will also be honoured at the sale.

Modigliani painting displayed at Pushkin Museum could be fake

Moscow, 14 November 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).

A debate about the authenticity of a Modigliani painting has risen within the Russian world of culture. The painting, Portrait of Marevna, is currently being displayed at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, in the exhibition “Paris School: 1905-1932”. The portrait, created by Modigliani in 1919, is believed to be a portrait of the cubist painter, Marie Vorobieff-Stebelska, otherwise known as Marevna. The president of the Modigliani Institute in Rome, Christian Parisot, who is legally authorised to authenticate the Italian artist’s works, has refuted the doubts publicised by the international press.

A Russian collector stated in The Art Newspaper, that he had considered buying the painting in 2006, for $3 million, however after the painting underwent scientific testing at  the Swiss Institute for Art Research, he withdrew from the purchase. According to the research, the pigments used in the painting were synthetic and produced after 1940, twenty years after the artist’s death. Natalia Kounikova, gallery owner and who organised a major exhibition of Marevna’s work at Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery in 2003, is also doubtful about the painting. Kounikova told the newspaper that the portrait doesn’t resemble Marevna: “you could always find traits of a resemblance in a portrait. Here they are entirely absent”.

The Portrait of Marevna will be exhibited until 20 November at Pushkin Museum and is estimated at $9 million, if it is the original. It has often been presented in exhibitions all over the world, despite the recent doubts. It was previously displayed at the retrospective “Amedeo Modigliani”, held until last February at the Municipal House of Prague.

Helly Nahmad Gallery prosecuted over a Modigliani painting

New York, 2 November 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).

According to Courthouse News Service, Helly Nahmad Gallery will be prosecuted by the grandson of Jewish art dealer Oscar Stettiner, due to the return of a painting by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) which disappeared in 1944.

Seated Man With a Cane painted by the Italian master in 1918, belonged to Parisian gallery owner Stettiner – who notably exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1930 – up until 1939 where the German invasion forced him to flee the country leaving his collection behind. In the words of his inheritor, Philippe Maestracci, the Nazis sold Stettiner’s goods, and notably the Modigliani painting in 1944, without his permission and Stettiner had tried, unsuccessfully, to recover the painting after the war up until his death in 1948.

This painting resurfaced in 2008 in the possession of Helly Nahmad, who anticipated on selling the painting through the intermediary society Sotheby’s. Philippe Maestracci contacted the gallery to recover the painting which he claims was his grandfathers and so makes him the legal owner. He argues that the 1944 sale is ’void since it occurred without the owner’s consent in violation of international law and New York’s law and public policy not to recognise forced sales under the Nazi regime’. Without receiving any response from the gallery, Maestracci has engaged in prosecutions before the American authorities.

Stolen “Modigliani” leads to arrest of Serbian war criminal

Belgrade, 21 July 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).

The Serbian President Boris Tadic has announced that Goran Hadzic, a Serbian fugitive wanted for war crimes, has been captured. A painting attributed to Modigliani is reported to have led to his arrest.

Vladimir Vukcevic told Reuters that the breakthrough came when the team searching for the fugitive learnt that he wished to sell a stolen Modigliani, as he was running out of money. Hadzic’s lawyer denies this, stating that his client has never owned a Modigliani, nor tried to sell one.

The Art Loss Register lists four of the modern master’s missing pieces, entitled Portrait of a Man. In January 2011, Serbian newspapers reported that a work with this title had been found in the possession of a friend of the war criminal. The authenticity of this work has never been verified, but experts are sceptical, as the piece is from a collection consisting mainly of forgeries.

Forgery or no, the Modigliani led investigators to the man who is accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of fourteen counts of war crimes. He is said to have ordered the assassination of thousands of civilians and the expulsion of the non-Serbian population during the conflict in Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1995. His arrest is expected to allow investigators to dismantle a network of extremists who have helped hide him during the past few years.

Two records for Modigliani in Paris

Paris, 15 June 2010. AMA.

The auction house Christie’s broke two records yesterday during the Impressionist and Modern Art sale. The first record was set by a painting by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. The second is the highest price ever paid for a French piece.

From the collection of Gaston Levy (founder of Monoprix), the sculpture entitled Tête (lot 24), measuring 64 cm and dated between 1910 and 1912, was estimated between $4 million and $6 million. It was telephonically purchased for 43,185,000 (costs included).

The rest of the sales include:

  • lot 86 : Femme à l’arbre by Alberto Magnelli, 1917, estimated between 300,000 and €500,000, sold for 673,000;
  • lot 79 : Voiliers dans le bassin de Deauville et drapeau by Raoul Dufy, 1933, estimated between 300 and 400.000, purchased at 343,000;
  • lot 36 : Le Baiser (réduction n° 3) by Auguste Rodin, 1886, estimated between 150,000 and €200.000 acquired for 277,000;
  • lot 30 : Bouquet de roses by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, unknown date, estimated between €180,000 and €280.000, purchased for €259.000;
  • lot 71 : Un coin du mur (effet de nuit) by Paul Gauguin, 1881, estimated between 80,000 and €120,000, sold for 253,000;
  • lot 31 : La croisée des chemins by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1883, estimated between 200,000 and €300,000, sold at 241,000;
  • lot 82 : La Malédiction by René Magritte, 1936, estimated between 200,000 and €300,000, acquired for 241,000;
  • lot 87 : Explosion lyrique n° B by Alberto Magnelli, 1918-1919, estimated between 200,000 and €300,000, sold at 241,000;
  • lot 84 : Mosaïque horizontale by Sonia Delaunay, 1954, estimated between 50,000 and €70,000, sold for 87,000.

The sale’s total turnover is 48,829,012.

Amadeo Modigliani at Municipal House in Prague

Prague, 10 December 2010. AMA.

The Municipal House in Prague presents the great Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani in a unique exhibition running from 9 December 2010 to 28 February 2011.

Amadeo Modigliani is a major twentieth-century figure from the “École de Paris”. The retrospective will display the artist’s studies and drawings, which kicked off his entire career. Paintings by friends of Modigliani will also be on view, including those by Picasso, Max Jacob and Gino Romiti, important masters from the avant-garde period in Paris before World War I.

The curator Serena Baccaglini will also draw a parallel between works by Modigliani and the Czech artist Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957).  They exhibited together at the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1912 and the event will highlight the connection between these two modern innovative artists.

The artworks on display are part of major public collections such as that of the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem and the Estorick Collection in London. Some loans from German, French and American private collections will also be exhibited.

The retrospective will be the most important to dedicated to the artist in the city of Prague.