Did Christie’s Do Its Homework? Buyer of Nazi-Tainted Work Says No
Christie’s says it is committed to ensuring that artworks looted during World War II are not offered for sale. But one buyer is now asking the auction house to return money he paid a decade ago for a painting recently identified as having been plundered by Nazis in 1940 from a Jewish collector in Paris.
Alain Dreyfus, an art dealer in Switzerland who bought the painting, Alfred Sisley’s “First Day of Spring in Moret,” at a 2008 auction in New York City, said that Christie’s did not sufficiently examine the work’s history before putting it up for sale.
“The provenance is very dubious,” he said by phone from France. “They didn’t do enough work.”
Mr. Dreyfus, who paid $338,500 for the painting, has asked the auction house to reimburse him that amount, plus an annual interest rate of 8 percent. He has said that he is willing to return “First Day of Spring ” to the heirs of Alfred Lindon, the collector from whom it was seized.
The painting and the disputes surrounding it were the subject of a lengthy report last week in Le Monde, which