Stolen Schoonhoven artwork auction - Sotheby's responds

Sotheby's has been accused of selling a Shoonhoven work that was stolen from a Dutch museum, despite having received a call from the Art Loss Register (ALR).

Jan Schoonhoven stolen Sotheby's
Sotheby's states that it had informed the ALR that the piece was different, yet received no response

The piece, created by Jan Schoonhoven in 1969, was one of several artworks stolen from the Bommel Van Dam museum in the Netherlands in March, which had a total value of over $1.3m.

The Schoonhoven work sold for £182,500 ($285,797) in London in June, bearing a different title and having been rotated 90 degrees in the catalogue. It had been consigned by a Dutch dealer, who also possessed some of the other stolen works and was arrested in Amsterdam last week.

However, Sotheby's have since denied deliberately selling the piece, saying it had responded to the Art Loss Register's call and had explained that the title on the back of the work did not match the title in their records. In the absence of a response, the sale went ahead, but has not yet been completed.

The auction house states that it is assisting the authorities with their on-going investigations.

Nonetheless, museum director Rick Vercauteren told Dutch newspaper NRC: "It baffles me that a work that is registered with the Dutch National Police Agency, Interpol and the Art Loss Register can be sold 12 weeks later."

Sotheby's was also responsible for the sale of a stolen Renoir work in February, which was taken from a Japanese collector in 2000.

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