Art Market

A French lawyer allegedly stole her client’s $22-million Yves Klein painting.

Benjamin Sutton
Sep 10, 2019 4:03PM, via Europe 1

Visitors look at an Yves Klein painting at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt. Photo by Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images.

France’s judicial police has opened an investigation into a woman’s allegation that her former attorney stole her Yves Klein painting valued at up to €20 million ($22 million). According to a report in Europe 1, the painting’s 80-year-old owner said she was persuaded by her lawyer at the time to entrust her with the painting, which the attorney claimed was at risk of theft or damage.

Since then, the lawyer has allegedly ignored all requests for the painting’s restitution, and deposited it in a storage facility where she is listed as its owner. As proof, the lawyer allegedly produced a letter in which the painting’s owner gifted it to her, which the plaintiff claims is fake. Neither party in the dispute has been named, nor has the painting at its center been identified.

The painting was given to the plaintiff by Klein himself in 1956, when she was just 17 years old. According to Europe 1’s report, several experts have valued it at up to $22 million. The current auction record for a work by Klein was established at Christie’s in London in 2012, when his Le Rose du bleu (RE 22) (ca. 1960) sold for $36.7 million.

Benjamin Sutton
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