This week Mr.S has had everyone scrambling to find all the information that we can about a German landscape painting that once hung in the gallery about 10 years ago. There appears to be some confusion due to a discrepancy between our records and those of disparate auction houses where and when the painting was over the course of its history. Mr.S is convinced that the auction houses had a forgery of the painting and that this explains how it seems to have been in two different places.
I can't help but think that the records somewhere must have gotten confused, though I suppose that it is possible for there to be a copy of this painting floating around. Mr.S seems prepared to declare war over this issue, wanting to force the auction houses into admitting that they had a forgery. What I don't get though, is that if there are two of the piece and whichever was the forgery would have been good enough to fool the experts at the auction houses, then it is just as possible that our gallery had been the ones bamboozled into carrying a fake. Of course, I can't suggest this to Mr.S, but it is troubling to think about.
What worries me most is that if Mr.S decides to get litigious about all this and there is a fraudulent painting involved, neither he not the auction houses have ownership of the painting any more, and the auction houses do not want their name smeared by having accidentally sold a counterfeit piece than he does. It would become a matter of his word against theirs, and I can only imagine that in such a situation the triumph goes to those who can afford the best lawyers. Though he might be rich, he can't afford the lawyers that a major auction house can.
Hopefully this won't go any further than a bit of saber rattling.