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STORY OF A RARE BRONZE SCULPTURE
01 January 1999



A Paris court decided on December 18th 1998 to award 300 000 FF in damages to the French owner of a rare bronze that had been considered to be a cast iron 19th Century cariatid estimated a mere 200 FF (US $ 33) by an expert in 1981.

The owner of that extraordinary piece representing in fact an atlantes eventually sold it to a second-hand dealer for 7500 FF (US $ 1350) who was then offered
300 000 FF (US $ 53,575) by Paris dealer Guy Ladrière in 1987.

Guy Ladrière went on to make intensive research about this bronze and found out that it had some great historical value since it had been an element of a funerary monument for prince Alessandro Contarini in Padua.
This piece had been executed by a sculptor named Agostino Zoppo between 1555 and 1560 and Guy Ladrière managed to sell it for 3,2 million FF
($ 571,400) to the Louvre Museum on March 18th 1987.

On learning that such sale was injurious to his interests the first owner sued all parties involved in that transaction, including the French State, but a court dismissed his suit in November 1990.
The owner then decided to sue the expert and the Paris auctioneer whom he had contacted to carry out a global estimate of his furniture and art objects in 1981.
The court notably stressed that the expert had not done his job properly and sentenced him as well as the auctioneer to pay 300 000 FF damages to the plaintiff.

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