But does the same apply to the more decorous world of art? To answer this question, we should look to respected London auction house, Sotheby’s, which has recently had some cause to ponder the relative merits of the statement, after becoming embroiled in an unholy row with dealer Philip Mould.
The trouble began last October, when Sotheby’s were commissioned to oversee an attic sale at Chatsworth House, the ancestral seat of the Duke of Devonshire.
Mould, who has made quite a name for himself by spotting unattributed Van Dycks, has had the painting cleaned, and the varnish overlay removed. He is, he says, more than ever convinced that his new acquisition is a Van Dyck, a belief corroborated by at least one respected Van Dyck expert. With their hard-won reputation coming under fire, Sotheby’s were forced to take the unusual step of releasing a statement in defence of their attribution. The statement read:
"Six out of seven of the world's leading specialists in this field whom Sotheby's has consulted also categorically reject the attribution to Van Dyck (the only one supporting the Van Dyck attribution being the same specialist Philip Mould consulted)."
|Before and after cleaning|
One thing is for sure, the publicity certainly hasn’t hurt Philip Mould or his gallery. His discovery is now valued at £85,000, and his exhibition, Finding Van Dyck, which showcases this and his other Van Dyck discoveries is proving very popular …
Finding Van Dyck is currently showing at Mould’s Dover Street gallery. Until July 13. http://www.philipmould.com