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Leonardo da Vinci

Dickinson to sue Luxembourg Art over Leonardo drawing

Fallout from Leonardo case sees London dealers locked in legal dispute

Two of London’s most powerful dealers are about to be locked in a legal battle, with Simon C. Dickinson Ltd suing Luxembourg Art Ltd. The dispute centres around Leonardo’s drawing of the Madonna and Child with St Anne and a Lamb, sold via Luxembourg and Dickinson for $7m to US buyer Nasser Kazeminy (The Art Newspaper, January, pp1, 57). Kazeminy returned the drawing to Dickinson in June 2008, because of his doubts over the attribution (see below). Last November the original Liechtenstein owner, Accidia, was successful in a separate legal action relating to commissions in London’s High Court against Dickinson.

Dickinson’s spokesman told us: “Following the Accidia judgment, our lawyers have been instructed to issue proceedings against Ms Luxembourg and her associated companies for full indemnity for the company’s loss.”

The loss is not being specified at this stage, but it could amount to over £1.5m. Dickinson was ordered by the High Court to reimburse Accidia for most of the commission it took. With interest this amounts to a repayment of around $900,000. Dickinson’s own legal costs and those of Accidia which it was ordered to pay may have added up to around £700,000. Dickinson might also seek the $500,000 commission taken by Luxembourg Art Ltd.

In the earlier case brought by Accidia, Justice Vos rejected the foundation’s argument that Dickinson had “behaved surreptitiously and disreputably”. The judge described Dickinson as “a straightforward witness”.

Judge Vos suggested that it was a third party, Luxembourg Art Ltd, which might be at fault. He commented in his judgment: “It is about two innocent parties who have been forced to litigate because of the conduct of a third, whom neither has chosen to bring before the Court, namely LAL [Luxembourg Art Ltd] and Ms Luxembourg… Ms Luxembourg knew full well that Dickinson was taking a turn [profit], and I am fairly confident that Mr Dickinson was right to say that she had a good idea what turn he was making. It was (at least primarily) her function to disclose these matters to her principal, Accidia, and…I am sure she did not do so.”

The judge said in court: “The claims against Ms Luxembourg could have been legion… I think you could properly have drafted a 50-page claim on each against her.” This is essentially the action which Dickinson is now initiating against Luxembourg.

Luxembourg’s legal representative told The Art Newspaper: “Luxembourg Art Ltd trusted Simon C. Dickinson when it agreed in writing that it was acting for the buyer.” Luxembourg Art Ltd did not wish to comment further.