September 30, 2017 / Mary Kachur


London, one of the world’s leading hubs for fine art where Old Masters and leading-edge contemporarys sell for tens of millions in a handshake is now embroiled in scandal. Timothy Sammons a fine art dealer, once director auctioneer of Sotheby’s Chinese art, is being sued for millions in international claims. The uber-wealthy who routinely turned to Sammons as their go-to-guy for dealings of masterpieces by Magritte, Canaletto, Picasso, Chagall, Modigliani and Van Gogh are now suing for sales on works that were not paid out after auction. Sammons first rose to fame by brokering the John Singer Sargent painting ‘Cashmere’ sale (seen here) to the Bill Gates Foundation for a record £6.7 million in 1996. From that sale he netted a healthy commission and confirmed his place as a sought after and well trusted confidant to the world’s wealthiest collectors, handling the most discreet and lofty international art exchanges.

Van Gogh, Prairie avec des Vaches (200-300k) 458k GBP                                                                                   Van Gogh ‘Prairie avec des Vaches’

Throughout his career as a fine art dealer, Sammons positioned himself to advice collectors and guide them through the tangled international obstacles of purchasing high-end art. His now dysfunctional website once boasted that Timothy Sammons Ltd, would provide “impartial, independent and professional advice on buying, selling and owning art.” Clients trusted his years of direct contact to the often arcane world of fine art procurement.  Auction houses valued his business with gratuities that were only possible through the secret passages of experience and well-heeled contacts. The paintings and artworks that he offered at auction were usually consigned under his business ownership to preserve the seller’s anonymity.

At the current case hearing in a London’s High Court, Sammons is being sued for failure to pay £1.6 million to the W.H. Smith family, of Abba star Frida Lyngstad. A second case handled in London and New York, Stephanie Overton, a New Zealand collector, is asking for the recovery of £7.1 million for paintings sold to several New York dealers. More collectors are expected to come forward as these trials become public and the disgruntled wealthy take aim.

Art Guide Staff Contributor, Cal Lambert

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