Art market

Victory for Wartski as disputed jewel heads to Stuttgart

The 1992 Grosvenor House Antiques Fair had declared the jewel a made-up piece


An extremely rare fourteenth-century Franco-Burgundian miniature triptych of enamelled gold has recently been bought by the town of Stuttgart for the Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim at a price around £100,000. This represents the final triumph of dealer Kenneth Snowman of Wartski over the vetting committee of the 1992 Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, which had declared the jewel a made-up piece. Mr Snowman, a former president of the B.A.D.A. and of the Fair, appealed and an extraordinary panel of experts from the Fitzwilliam, the Victoria and Albert and the British Museum reinstated the jewel, which then went on to win the Artefact of the Year award. The initial blunder was all the more glaring since the pendant had been exhibited without opposition at the previous year's fair, as had most of the twenty other items which the veltine committee threw off Wartski's stand. Recent research has now established that the jewel, which represents the Virgin and Child with two angels behind folding doors of rock crystal, definitely comes from the same workshop as the Man of Sorrows triptych in the Bavarian royal treasury in the Munich Residenz, and its early history has been traced through the archives. Mr Snowman's disgust at the vetting committee's decision over the other items has led to his withdrawing from subsequent Grosvenor House fairs.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Game, set and match to Wartski over jewel'