A 62-year-old Belgian house promoter has been trying for 26 years to recover 142 masterpieces stolen from his collection following a controversial court decision.
Emile Sablon claims his paintings and several buildingsin his possession were illegally confiscated after his firm was declared bankrupt in 1971.
Namur-based Emile Sablon said he had more than enough with Belgian justice which declared the insolvency of his firm because of unpaid social charges. As a result of the court decision which he described as scandalous his 500 employees were laid off, his art collection and his buildings seized.
" I offered a 4 million Belgian francs (US $ 115,000) payment to stop the procedure and despite the existence of such sum in my bank account, my firm was declared bankrupt," he said.
It took him 17 years to enact a procedure to recover his collection and buildings which had been put into the care of liquidators who were apparently unscrupulous since they sold the paintings through a Brussels art dealer who himself went bankrupt afterwards. Emile Sablon charged that the liquidators destroyed his archives but that he was confident that his appeal against the 26-year-old court decision would be successful.
The collection included three paintings by Van Gogh, five by Monet, six by Cezanne, five by Courbet, one by Gauguin, 16 by Manet, three by Modigliani, five by Toulouse-Lautrec, eight by Renoir, one by Pissarro, four by Fantin-Latour, one by Degas and two by Corot among others.
At least two paintings were acquired by the Louvre museum, one being a plate with asparagus by Monet.
Emile Sablon said his collection was worth between US $ 95 million and 130 million and the buildings seized and later auctioned by the Belgian State some US $ 160 million.
The European Court for Human rights has already called upon
Belgian authorities to reach an agreement regarding this controversial case, he added. Adrian Darmon