James Butterwick, already renowned London art dealer, worked for several years in Moscow and London, specializing in the field of Russian avant-garde. He therefore knows the problems of this area on both sides of the European border.
He wrote an open letter to InCoRM dated July 1rst 2011… which has received no answer yet.
Why have you not instructed your solicitors ? was the final question he asked to InCoRM.
Here is his letter.
We have read, with great interest, your recent comments regarding the two books by Anthony Parton1 and Denize Bazetout2 and how the Moscow Art establishment seeks to denude these books of any credibility.
As you are clearly, and perhaps quite rightly, determined to defend your position, may we ask the following questions :
- Why do neither Sotheby’s nor Christies accept your certificates of authenticity ? You mention that the major auction houses have sold paintings with your certificates. Which ones ?
- Can Denise Bazetout confirm or deny that she has never been a conduit for sale of any work by Goncharova and, if yes, has she ever accepted money for such a role ?
- Why has neither Denise Bazetout nor Anthony Parton investigated the Goncharova archives in Moscow ?
- Can either author confirm the reaction of the Paris Kandinsky Library to these so-called dubious works ?
- Why are these dubious paintings without provenance and yet other paintings that are authentic have a full listing? All of the great, real paintings by Goncharova have a full provenance and exhibition history – why do these fakes have none ? Perhaps you have just made a mistake and would publish them ? Surely the owners would like to be sure that they have bought a genuine work.
- Can you explain why every picture with certificates from Anthony Parton and Denise Bazetout is for sale at a fraction of its real value, if the painting were genuine ? A recent example was a version of ‘Cyclist’ at Tajan in Paris. The estimate was 400-600,ooo euros and yet the last price for a similar work by Goncharova was 4,000,000 euros in 2010. Could they please explain this anomaly ?
- How many times has Patricia Railing been to Moscow ?
- A client of mine bought an Exter from Bonhams four or five years ago with a certificate from Kovalenko. I told him not to as it was a fake. Bonhams raised no objections. Why did this auction house trust my word over and above that of the so-called expert ?
- Did Denise Bazetout receive permission from the Tretyakov Gallery to reproduce their works ?
- Why does the serious side of the Western art market refute any certificate from the Malevich Committee on which worked Dzhafarova and Valyaeva or Patricia Railing ? Why were they not asked to provide such a document for the Malevich that sold in New York for $60m ?
- You write that no-one other than Parton and Bazetout has written a monograph on Goncharova and therefore has no right to comment. Andrei Nakov, on the other hand, has written a monograph on Malevich. What is his opinion of the certificates of the Malevich Committee on which sat Dzhafarova and Valyaeva ? Are any of the works on which they have written certificates included in the monograph ?
- Can Patricia Railing explain why her certificates on Malevich relate to paintings whose market price is roughly 10% of a real work by this painter ? I saw her certificate relating to a version ‘to Harvest’ recently. Would she be prepared to compare it with the original ?
- Are you prepared to allow any work which has been named dubious to undergo thorough chemical expertise from an independent expert ?
- Can you please confirm the ownership of any of these dubious works ? You write confidently about their provenance, surely the owners would like to dispel any doubt ?
- You claim that all the works in these books is 100% genuine. What guarantees can you give to this effect and can you explain the anomaly that is Bazetout’s book some works are Goncharova (?) and yet in Parton’s book there is no question ?
- What is your view of the Exter exhibition in Tours in 2008 ?
- As you doubt the word of the Russian side, we would like to propose that some of these pictures in which we doubt are brought to Moscow to compare with the originals in the Tretyakov. We guarantee the return of the pictures to any location in Europe.
- Do you deny the existence of fakes on the Russian market ? Please give concrete examples.
- The accusations against you are serious. Why have you not instructed your solicitors ?
Etc. etc. etc.
ARTinvestment.RU – 01.07.2011, 15:51
1. Anthony Parton, Goncharova. The Art and Design of Natalia Goncharova
2. Denise Bazetoux, Natalia Gontcharova, Son œuvre entre tradition et modernité