Danish auctioneer sold stolen painting

Danish auction website unintentionally sold a painting that is included in a list of stolen works.

Danish auctioneer sold stolen painting's owners Mette Rode Sundstrøm and Bengt Sundstrøm. File photo: Jenny Layman/Scanpix

The artwork, an oil painting by Danish artist Carl Vilhelm Holsøe, was sold by the website in 2016 for 74,000 kroner ($10,000) without anyone from the company noticing it was listed as stolen.

The painting was stolen along with seven other works from a house near the southern Danish city of Kolding in 2000 and was registered with the Art Loss Register in London, a database of stolen art worldwide, reports newspaper Politiken.

“If the Danish auction house had a subscription to the Art Loss Register, they would have found the painting with a simple search of our database, thereby avoiding the illegal sale in Denmark,” Nina Neuhaus of the Art Loss Register told the newspaper.

The register can run a manual check of all the works valued at €1,500 or more in an auction house’s catalogue, reports Politiken. The cost for the auction house is around 22 kroner ($3) per search.

But unlike most international auction houses, neither Lauritz nor any other of its Danish colleagues subscribe to the database.

“We recommend that all our experts use the checking methods available, including Art Loss Register, Find Stolen Art and Stolen Art FBI,” Lauritz’ concept director Mette Jessen told the newspaper by email. Jessen added that the company did not use Art Loss Register in this instance since the work in question was Danish and the Danish police had no record of it being stolen.

The incident is not the first time stolen works have been mistakenly auctioned in Denmark. In 2011, Lauritz sold a stolen painting by Danish artist Anders Moseholm and last year listed for auction a part of a coffin that was stolen from Esbjerg Museum in 1977.


Not ok to chop up painting: Danish court puts stop to watch wind-up

A Danish artist has won an injunction against Faroese watch makers who wanted to repurpose one of his canvases as a range of designer timepieces.

Not ok to chop up painting: Danish court puts stop to watch wind-up
Arne Leivsgard takes in 'Paris Chic'. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

The artist, Tal R, successfully appealed to courts to prevent Faroese pair Dann Thorleifsson and Arne Leivsgard from destroying one of his paintings and using the pieces to make watches – which would then be sold off at a profit.

The Maritime and Commercial Court (Sø- og Handelsretten) in Copenhagen ruled on Monday in favour of Tal R.

As a result, Thorleifsson and Leivsgard have been forbidden from going ahead with their art-repurposing project and must also pay pay 31,550 kroner in legal costs, news agency Ritzau as well as British newspaper the Guardian reported on Monday.

The court found that, by altering rather than destroying the art, Thorleifsson and Leivsgard’s plan was in breach of copyright laws.

‘Paris Chic’, part of Tal R’s ‘Sexshops’ series, was purchased in London for £70,000 (610,000 kroner) earlier this year by the Faroese pair.

Thorleifsson and Leivsgard founded a watch company, Kanske, five years ago but are also known as art provocateurs.

They planned to cut up Tal R’s painting and use the pieces as the faces in a line of designer wristwatches made for their new brand, Letho.

Between 200 and 300 watches would have been made and sold on for at least 10,000 kroner a piece, resulting in a profit of up to 4 million kroner.

But they have asserted that art, rather than profit, is their primary motive for making the watches.

“This is a modification. Not plagiarism and not a copy. It is an original that has been worked on to create something new. That's the storytelling we're working on,” Thorleifsson told newspaper Berlingske.

Tal R has said the matter makes him “sad”.

“I see it as someone trying to make money and get attention by making a product out of my art, and that frankly makes me sad,” the artist wrote in comments given to newspaper Politiken last week.

“He acknowledges that whoever purchases one of his works would be at liberty to sell it on or even destroy the work,” the artist’s lawyer, Jørgen Permin, said in October.

“But what he is not obliged to accept is for someone to alter the work and then reintroduce it to the public domain, and particularly not for commercial reasons,” Permin added.

Last week, the parties presented their views to the Maritime and Commercial Court. Judge Mads Bundgaard Larsen has subsequently concluded that a temporary ban should be imposed on cutting up the work for the Letho pair’s intended purposes.

They are “prohibited from cutting, shredding or otherwise changing the painting ‘Paris Chic’ “for use in the manufacture, marketing and supply of watches in Denmark”, the court order states.

Tal R can make the temporary ban permanent by bringing a legal case within the next two weeks, while Thorleifsson and Leivsgard can appeal such a decision, Ritzau reports.

Their lawyer, Heidi Højmark Helveg, told the news agency that they were yet to make a decision in this regard.

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