Art dealer (Hedge fund backed) lost an $11 million ruling to Sotheby’s in a case involving an allegedly fake painting

Art dealer (Hedge fund backed) lost an $11 million ruling to Sotheby’s in a case involving an allegedly fake painting
Written by:
Andia Rispah
12th December 2019
  • The court ordered a hedge fund manager David Kowitz to pay Sotheby roughly $6.6 million after the investor lost a case involving an allegedly fake painting.
  • The painting is attributed to Dutch artist Frans Hals.
  • The Dutch Golden Age painting fell under scrutiny when art experts hired by auction house found it included paint pigments first used four centuries after Hals died.

The court ordered a hedge fund manager David Kowitz to pay Sotheby roughly $6.6 million after the investor lost a case involving an allegedly fake painting.

The lawsuit concerns about $10.8 million sale of “Portrait of a Gentleman.” The painting is attributed to Dutch artist Frans Hals.

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The art dealer Mark Weiss and Kowitz’s art vehicle- Fairlight Art Ventures consigned the art in 2011.

 Robin Knowles a London based Judge ordered Weiss to pay a $4.2 million settlement to Sotheby’s in April. The Wednesday ruling found Fairlight to repay the balance of $10.8 to the auction sale.

The Dutch Golden Age painting fell under scrutiny when art experts hired by auction house found it included paint pigments first used four centuries after Hals died.

Sotheby’s reimbursed the painting’s buyer and sued Weiss and Fairlight.

According to Bloomberg, Weiss paid $4.2 million to settle the lawsuit in April. On Wednesday, Judge Robin Knowles ruled that Fairlight owes the remainder of the $10.8 million sum, including costs and 5% interest.

In February 2017, Sotheby’s called the painting an “unequivocal” fake. Sotheby’s told The New York Times that although Weiss conducted his own investigation into the art, “none of these further tests would change its conclusion.”

Bloomberg reported that Knowles claimed the case hinged more on the artist than the piece itself.

He noted that the court wouldn’t judge the value of the work in case such a statement would change its worth, forgery, or not.

Whether by Frans Hals or not, it is to be hoped that its intrinsic qualities will not be ignored and that it may be enjoyed for what it is, which is a fine painting,” the judge reportedly said.

Sotheby’s hasn’t yet replied to a request for comment. Kowitz wasn’t available for comment.

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