An art heiress has been handed a lawsuit claiming she cheated a collector out of an Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol’s Queen Elizabeth II. Courtesy of Art Recovery International.

The Art Newspaper has reported that Angela Gulbenkian, a German woman who married into the Gulbenkian family – one of Europe’s wealthiest art-collecting families of Lisbon’s The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum fame, has been accused of fraud (and not for the first time).

A complaint was filed in January in Munich on behalf of an anonymous London art dealer. His lawyer, Hannes Hartung, states that his client was sold Andy Warhol’s Queen Elizabeth II print in March 2019 for £115,000 by Gulbenkian.

However, Gulbenkian never gave the money to the original owner, meaning Hartung’s client found this out only when the original owner filed a legal case against him demanding the return of the picture or payment. However, the London dealer had already resold Queen Elizabeth II. According to Hartung, since then, the print has been sold again. “We do not know where the Warhol is now, but Gulbenkian kept the money,” Hartung said.

For many who have followed Gulbenkian’s dealings this case will sound familiar. In fact, court papers suggest this is “exactly the same scam” the Gulbenkian allegedly implemented against art advisor Mathieu Ticolat, who claims Gulbenkian defrauded him out of £1.1million for a yellow pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama that he never received.

                Yayoi Kusama’s PUMPKIN (2018). A similar sculpture to the one Gulbenkian failed to deal.

Gulbenkian faces trial on the 11 May in London and is pleading not guilty to the charges brought against her.

The Art Newspaper reports that the London buyer said that prior to the purchase he had “had absolutely no reason to doubt Mrs Gulbenkian.” He also “assumed that she was authorised to sell the work of art”, but soon realised that “Gulbenkian was not at all entitled to sell the Warhol on these terms.”

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