A judge allowed a French art dealer to keep €4.2 million he earned from reselling an African mask. The merchant did not mislead the couple from whom he bought the mask.
The couple had filed a lawsuit against the dealer after they saw the mask in the catalog of an art auction in Montpellier. They wanted to stop selling the mask. According to the couple, the merchant misled them about the value of the mask.
The art dealer had found the mask in 2021 at the holiday home of the couple, who were in their eighties. They asked the merchant to search the house located in the city of Alice in southern France. He bought the mask for 150 euros.
The mask turned out to be very rare. Therefore, the auction house estimated the value of the mask at more than 300 thousand euros.
It turned out to be a Ngian mask, made by the Fang people of Gabon in the 19th century. There are only ten examples of this type of mask. At the auction in March 2022, the buyer eventually offered 4.2 million euros for it.
The dealer denies that he knew the mask was worth it. The judge agreed with him and found that the couple failed to determine the “historical and artistic value” of the mask.
Handelaar ‘wist niet’ dat masker dat hij voor 150 euro kocht 4,2 miljoen waard was
“Pop culture enthusiast. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Analyst. Student. Explorer.”