Feb 13, 2019

An Old Masters dealer has been sued for not disclosing the price history of two paintings he sold for €5 million.

The billionaire Anglo-American investor and collector Gary Klesch is suing London-based Old Master gallery Richard Green Fine Paintings for allegedly failing to disclose the provenance of two paintings he bought from Richard Green at TEFAF Maastricht last year: Jan Brueghel the Elder’s River Landscape with Fishers and a Cart (c. 1600–10) and Salomon van Ruysdael’s Winter Landscape with Figures Skating and Sleigh-Riding Outside a Town, with the Utrecht Dom and Huis Groenwoude at Right (c. 1650s).
Klesch claims that had he known the paintings had both sold at auction for significantly lower prices in 2017, he would not have paid €3 million ($3.4 million) for the Brueghel and €2 million ($2.3 million) for the van Ruysdael. According to Klesch’s lawsuit, the van Ruysdael had sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2016 for $882,500, and the Brueghel sold at Lempertz in Cologne just a few months before TEFAF for €1,456,000 ($1.6 million). Klesch’s lawsuit claims that Richard Green did not provide records of these sales.
However, Jonathan Green, a director at Richard Green, told The Art Newspaper that the gallery was in no way obligated to divulge that information. Indeed, guidelines released by fairs and gallery associations underline the importance of ensuring the airtight provenance of works being sold, but in no way mandate dealers to divulge the prices paid for a work in previous transactions.
In a statement quoted by TAN, Richard Green Fine Paintings elaborated:
It is rare for our clients to be dissatisfied, but if this were the case, we would have invited Mr Klesch to discuss with us his concerns. Unfortunately, he did not give us that opportunity. In November 2018, he served a claim on us expressing his desire to rescind the sale. Although Mr Klesch is dissatisfied with the price paid for the paintings, there are very good comparables for both artists that have appeared at auction before and since Mr Klesch’s purchase which justify the value placed upon them.