Nov 8, 2018

A collector was ordered to repay Sotheby’s $1.2 million over a fake Parmigianino.

A painting of Saint Jerome that was previously attributed to the Mannerist master Parmigianino has been identified as a modern forgery, according to the judgment in a U.S. court. As a result, the collector who consigned it to Sotheby’s for a 2012 sale—where it fetched $842,500—has been ordered to repay the auction house more than $1.2 million—the sum it refunded the buyer, plus interest, legal fees, and the costs for forensic analysis by Orion Analytical, which found synthetic pigments dating from the 20th century in the work.
The collector, Luxembourg-based financier Lionel de Saint Donat-Pourrières, had originally tried to refute Orion Analytical’s findings, but the expert he hired to do so, Maurizio Seracini, concurred that the painting was a 20th-century fake. The work is one of several forged Old Masters paintings to have come to market through the collector Giuliano Ruffini. That string of forgeries is now the subject of a French criminal investigation.
Before Orion and Seracini gave their verdicts on the Saint Jerome, experts had expressed doubts over its attribution to Parmigianino, leading Sotheby’s to list it as belonging to the “Circle of Parmigianino.” However, when it was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2014–15, it was displayed as a Parmigianino.