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Thwaytes v Sotheby's

Sotheby’s advice to Mr Thwaytes was that the Painting was a contemporary copy of ‘The Cardsharps’ in the Kimbell Art Museum. The Painting was sold by Sotheby’s in 2006 as by “a follower” of Caravaggio for a hammer price of £42,000. The Painting was subsequently authenticated as being by the hand of Caravaggio. Mr Thwaytes brought proceedings against Sotheby’s for breach of contract and negligence. Mr Thwaytes did not assert that the Painting was by Caravaggio. Instead he alleged that Sotheby’s failed adequately to research the Painting and failed to notice certain features of it that should have indicated to them that it had ‘Caravaggio potential’.

The trial of the proceedings began on 27 October 2014 in the Chancery Division and lasted for 4 weeks. Counsel for Mr Thwaytes were Henry Legge QC (5 Stone Buildings) and Andrew Bruce (Serle Court). The Judge was Mrs Justice Rose. Judgment was handed down on 16 January 2015 and Rose J found that Sotheby’s was not negligent in their assessment of the Painting.

A link to the judgment can be found here.