Published: November 14, 2006
“We became one of several victims in a most unusual chain of circumstances,” stated Gene Shannon of Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers, in regard to a Henri Fantin-Latour painting that was sold by the auction house and ultimately turned out to be stolen.
The painting, titled “Bouquet D’Hiver,” had been sold to an antiques dealer for a reported $100 and was consigned to Shannon’s, where it sold during its May auction in excess of $1 million.
“In each and every way, Shannon’s conducted its business by the book and performed due diligence,” stated the auction house. “We followed all of the standard procedures,” stated Shannon, “sending photographs to recognized art experts in Paris to verify the painting’s authenticity, and we also submitted photographs of the painting to the Art Loss Register in New York City to ensure that the painting was not among listed stolen or missing artworks. The Art Loss Register verified that this painting was not in their data base,” he said.
The tale began when the Fantin-Latour painting was allegedly stolen from a shed of a Waterford, Conn., home by a handyman while the homeowner was visiting in Europe. When the owner of the Fantin-Latour returned home in September, some four months after the painting had been sold by Shannon’s, it was found to have gone missing and was reported stolen.
Authorities discovered the painting on the Internet and then contacted Shannon’s, who assisted in locating both the painting, sold to a European client, and its consignor.
According to the website for New London’s newspaper The Day, www.theday.com, arrested in the case was Charles R. McDougal, 44, who has been charged with stealing the painting. Waterford police have reportedly termed the theft as “the town’s biggest-ever larceny case.” According to the auction house, investigators from the Waterford Police Department “flew to Europe and recovered the painting and are now in the process of returning the painting to its rightful owner.” Shannon’s has stated that a full refund of the purchase price is being made to the auction purchaser.
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