A NSW Supreme Court judge has found that art auction house Christie’s engaged in deceit and unconscionable conduct over the sale of a $75,000 fake Albert Tucker painting to a Sydney barrister 14 years ago.

Louise McBride was awarded $118,718 in damages from Christie’s and her art adviser and the dealer who consigned the painting, Fairfax Media reports.

Justice Patricia Bergin ruled that Christie’s is liable for 85% of the damages, consigner Alex Holland of Holland Fine Arts, 10%, and McBride’s former art adviser, Vivienne Sharpe, 5%.

The legal action has brought to light one of the murkier aspects of the art world, where dispute over fake paintings are often settled outside of court.

Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham launched NSW Supreme Court action over a $2.5 million Brett Whiteley painting he bought, but the matter was settled last year without the provenance of the painting being established. The authenticity of the paintings is now subject to legal action in Victoria.

In the McBride case, Justice Bergin found there was misleading and deceptive conduct by the three respondents and that breaches of the Fair Trading Acts occurred.

Christie’s attempted to argue that she was barred by the statute of limitations from bringing the claim and she was not the painting’s owner because the art collector uses a family company, but the judge ruled that the five year time limit only applied from when the fake was discovered. McBride only discovered the problem when she went to sell the painting, Faun and Parrot, and another auction house declared it a fake.

Sydney art consultant Vivienne Sharpe has been accused of being ‘selective’ in her memory of conversations with Christie’s over the provenance of the Albert Tucker painting and deceiving her client, McBride.

In preparing for the case, details emerged of Christie’s staff member contacting Tucker experts over concerns about the number of Tucker paintings from dealer Alex Holland. A Melbourne University panel concluded that McBride’s painting and two others were fakes, but Christie’s auction a second “Tucker” later than year. In 2012, it reimbursed the buyer, the Australian Club in Sydney, $69,000.

Christie’s closed down in Australia in 2006.

Justice Bergin also found against McBride’s art adviser in a separate claim over the sale of a Jeffrey Smart painting to the Menzies Art Brands auction house when the collector was forced to liquidate her collection in 2010. The painting had a guaranteed auction price of $360,000.

After advising McBride to accept the negotiated guarantee, Vivienne Sharpe did not reveal that she would receive a 30% cut of the price paid above the guaranteed figure.

While it’s common practice between auction houses and art dealers, Justice Bergin said it was a secret commission that should have been disclosed. McBride will now receive the commission, which has been kept in a trust fund by Menzies.


The event was with regard to the ‘Fulbright’ prizes that were residencies all over the world. These particular past winners had all attended ‘Headlands’ in San Francisco California.

Essentially this year’s competition closes on Aug 1 and they are still looking for entries. This was a way of highlighting the past winners work and advertising the benefits of the residency.

It looked and sounded wonderful. I think wifey will be entering a work for consideration, which means if she wins, she gets to bugger off to SF for 3 months.

The showcased work was quite varied, photography, installations and drawing. The artists articulated their thought process that went into the creation of their art.


We’re off to the art gallery tonight. I’m not sure what it is actually all about, we booked the tickets a few weeks ago.


Well we attended the “Mind the gap” discussion held at the gallery and got into the debate through arguing the point with an Auckland University Professor of Sociology. In fact we argued on several points.

He actually was trying to argue that capitalism is synonymous with “State” intervention. That capitalism was essentially the State. In fact the entire panel bar one lady whose name escapes me, made this argument, conflating capitalism with corporatism, which relies upon State coercion.

When questioned on the legality or otherwise of fractional reserve lending…no answer. Instead, I was treated to an argument that individuals ‘withdraw’ from capitalism constantly…did you know that when you ‘smile at work’ you are withdrawing from capitalism? That was the counter-argument to fractional reserve lending.

Totally beyond them was the concept that capitalism is the derivative of property rights. That government seeks to encroach upon property rights…as if any more stark example of PRISM and the NSA debacle currently unfolding were needed.

Of course interspersed with the theory was the art-speak, which was to be expected, it was after all in an art gallery. It was a good evening, I do love a good argument.



Taken by a British photographer.

Here is Kristin’s art on display in the gallery that she finally selected to sell her work. It is also our local gallery, which makes it much easier when transporting the art.

Rock star Eric Clapton sells an abstract painting by German artist Gerhard Richter for £21.3m – a new record amount for a living artist.

A high gloss was applied to the results of last week’s contemporary art auctions in London when a luxuriant abstract painting by Gerhard Richter established a new record for a living artist, selling at Sotheby’s for £21.3 million. Rock star Eric Clapton, who bought it for one tenth of the price in 2001, timed the sale well. In the past four years, Richter’s decorative abstract paintings, of which there are hundreds, have become status symbols among the world’s super rich – Roman Abramovich and Lily Safra, who gave hers to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, being among the top buyers at auction.

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