Collectors sue Agnew’s over Van Dyck and Constable misattributions

The gallery catalogued both works as genuine, though experts made no secret of their ambivalence



The Old Bond Street gallery Agnew’s, one of Britain’s oldest dealers, is embroiled in two lawsuits. In the first case, an American collector went to court over a painting by Van Dyck which he claimed was a studio work. Richard Drake bought the portrait of James Stuart, Duke of Lennox, from the London dealer in 1998 for £1.5 million, via an agent. Agnew’s had bought it in 1996 for £36,000 at the sale of Ickworth House, when it was catalogued as “after Van Dyck”. Agnew’s catalogue noted that there was a “conflict of expert opinion”, but Julian Agnew, in court, said he believed that the work was by Van Dyck. On the other hand, Sir Oliver Millar told The Art Newspaper, “I have always said it was not by Van Dyke”. A judgement is expected this month. The second case concerns a Constable, which was sold by the gallery in the 1960s to a British collector as being by the artist. However it does not figure in Graham Reynold’s catalogue raisonné, and he identifies it as a copy. The painting was regularly valued by Agnew’s, with the last dating from 1998, when company director Evelyn Joll put its worth at £660,000. The son of the original buyer, Sir Simon Day, is now suing Agnew’s for £1 million.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as '…and collectors sue Agnew’s'