Sotheby’s is being sued for allegedly miscalculating the date of an Egyptian statue

Mahmoud Mokhtar, Au Bord Du Nil (credit: Sotheby’s)

In this week’s problematic art news: famed art dealer Sotheby’s is having trouble deciding the date of a bronze statue’s creation. And Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, is now suing Sotheby’s over the alleged miscalculation.

Al-Qassemi is hoping to be reimbursed £725,000 (roughly $937,000), the price he paid for the statue called Au Bord du Nil last year. Sotheby’s listed the piece as “cast in circa 1920s” but Al-Qassemi does not believe it was made during the life of the artist, Mahmoud Mokhtar, who died in 1934.

After purchasing the four-foot statue of a woman carrying a vessel above her head, Al-Qassemi requested that Sotheby’s confirm the date of formation with the foundry that made it. They estimated that the statue was created in 1939, five years after Mokhtar’s death, due to a mark on the bronze, reports The Telegraph.

The auction house argued that there is actually no bronze stamp on the cast which was a requirement by law after 1935, meaning that this statue must be a lifetime cast.

In an email statement, Sotheby’s said, “The Foundry has acknowledged that in the absence of records to the contrary any comments regarding the markings are necessarily speculative. We never want a valued and respected client to be unhappy with our service, but in this case we simply could not resolve our good faith dispute, despite our very best efforts.”

[The Telegraph]