Man sues Sotheby's over Caravaggio controversy

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Collector Sues Sotheby's Over Misattribution Of Caravaggio Painting Valued

An art collector is suing the famed auction house Sotheby's, claiming their experts failed to recognize his painting they sold was a Caravaggio masterpiece worth tens of millions before selling it for tens of thousands.

Lancelot Thwaytes says Sotheby's misattributed this copy of "The Cardsharps" to an imitator of Caravaggio, rather than Caravaggio himself. Now he wants to be compensated.

Thwaytes sold the controversial painting through the notable auction house back in 2006 to British collector Sir Denis Mahon for nearly $70,000. But then Mahon declared the work an earlier version by Caravaggio, saying it was worth greater than $16 million, more than 200 times its selling price.

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Man sues Sotheby's over Caravaggio controversy
Russia, St. Petersburg, Hermitage Museum
David with the Head of Goliath, by Michelangelo Merisi a.k.a Caravaggio (1571-1610). Oil on wood, 90,5x116.5 cm, c.1607. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
Saint Jerome Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 1571-1610 Italian
Salome receives the head of John the Baptist, 1607-10, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), oil on canvas, 91.5 x 106.7 cm.
17th century, Italy, Milan, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Art Gallery, 92.5x121.5 cm. (Inv. 624)
Italy, Lazio, Rome, Capitoline Museums, Palazzo dei Conservatori. Detail. Couple woman gypsy sorceress soothsayer young man boy feathered hat jacket black orange hat hand.
The Crowning with Thorns, ca 1603, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), oil on canvas, 127x165 cm.
Crucifixion of St Peter, 1600-1601, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), oil on canvas, 230x175 cm. Santa Maria del Popolo, Cerasi Chapel, Rome.
The dentist, 1608-1609, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), oil on canvas, 118,5x95 cm.
Church of San Luigi dei Francesi with Caravaggio paintings, Rome, Italy
Italy, Lazio, Rome, San Luigi dei Francesi Church. Whole artwork view. Martyrdom Saint apostle Matthew torturer executioner naked young man hirelings onlookers bystanders angel palm crying screaming child, photographic campaign 2009.

Now, three years after Mahon's death, Thwaytes is claiming Sotheby's did not consult widely enough with experts, and he's been cheated much like the subject in the late 16th century painting.

Sotheby's is fiercely contesting these claims saying, "The [original] Cardsharps was painted by Caravaggio with the striking virtuosity and realism for which his early works are famous. The quality of execution on display in the painting [in question] falls far short of the original."

They added none of the people who've backed the controversial painting's authenticity were Caravaggio experts, including Mahon.

Caravaggio paintings are extremely valuable and incredibly rare as the artist died at just 38 years old in 1610. Only fifty or so paintings are known to exist.

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