Sunday 19 November 2017

Art found in bank to be auctioned

A Derain, among art which lay in a vault for 40 years
A Derain, among art which lay in a vault for 40 years

A collection of art which lay undiscovered in a bank vault for 40 years was described by auctioneers as "an extraordinary find".

The 141 paintings, including works by Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso and Andre Derain, will finally be sold later in the summer following a dispute over ownership lasting a quarter of a century.

They will go under the hammer at Sotheby's in London and Paris in June with a guide price totalling more than £16m.

The trove of art treasures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries belonged to Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who promoted the likes of Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh.

After his death in 1939, his assistant Erich Slomovic placed the works in a French bank before fleeing to his native Yugoslavia where he died at the hands of the Nazis in 1942.

The artwork remained untouched until 1979, when Societe Generale bank in Paris was given permission to open the vault and sell the contents in order to recoup decades of unpaid storage fees, according to Sotheby's.

An auction date was set for 1981 but the sale was cancelled amid a dispute about ownership among the heirs of the two men.

Legal wrangling continued until the situation was resolved in 2006 and this summer's sale is to take place with the agreement of the beneficiaries of the Vollard estate, Sotheby's said.

The collection includes a colourful painting in the avant-garde fauve style which will be sold in an exhibition in London on June 22.

The 1905 work by Derain, titled Arbres a Collioure, could set a world record with an estimate of £9m to £14m after Sotheby's revealed the current highest price for a Derain stands at £8.5m.

Press Association

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