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Posted By: luke owens Wed, Sep 05, 2007 IP:

Hello, we are joining this forum to explain a situation we find ourselves in, that we feel,
has a relevance to anybody who has had, or are thinking of having, any dealings with
Christies auction rooms.

We purchased 3 paintings by Indonesian artist Affandi. All of them from the same source.
In 1996 we sold one of these paintings – Fighting Roosters in baskets. Lot no:82. Christies Amsterdam, Tuesday October 29th 1996 - at auction.

When looking to sell another, in 1999, we sent both of our remaining Affandis’ for evaluation and received one for each painting. We decided to sell one of them and hold onto the other.
This painting – Barong Dance. Lot no:138 Christies Singapore, Sunday October 1st 2000 - also sold successfully at auction.

In January of 2006 we decided to sell the last of our 3 Affandis’ and again sent for a new evaluation. Christies were so excited about this painting that they asked us to send it to them 6 months before their next auction so they could use it for promotional purposes and possibly for the cover of the catalogue. In addition to this, they also waived the shipping costs and gave the painting a double page entry in the catalogue with photograph, and literature – composed by them - .

The evening before the sale we received a telephone call from Christies, asking us if we had any documentation on the painting. We faxed them a copy of a certificate from the Affandi museum – that came with the painting – which seemed to satisfy them.

2 minutes before the sale Christies withdrew the painting from auction. The reason we were given was that Affandi’s daughter, Kartika – who now runs the Affandi museum that used to be run by the cultural department of the Indonesian government – had told them that in her opinion the painting was a fake and the person who signed the certificate was not authorised to do so.

What we would like to know is what happened to this painting in the 6 months that it was with Christies, as surely their experts viewed it.
What expertise does Affandi’s daughter have?
If Kartika is such an authority, why was she not consulted earlier, thus saving the humiliation, controversy and financial repercussions.

We are left confused by this experience and would not wish anybody else to suffer the same.

We are looking into various courses of action and are asking anybody who has had a similar experience to please get in contact with us.
We are also asking whoever bought the first 2 Affandi’s to please contact us as we feel that this situation seems to call the authenticity of these paintings into question.

To this date, we have still not received our painting back.

Posted By: Dan E. Thu, Sep 06, 2007


It sounds like a very unfortunate mess however I don't think you can blame Christies. No doubt their experts viewed it and deemed it as authentic. It sounds like the daughter of the artist who is also currently the director of the Affandi museum came in at the 11th hour and called to question the authenticity. I would say her biological connection to the artist along with her current standing as director of his museum would classify her as an expert. Christies had no choice but to withdraw the painting to protect themselves and you. You are correct, the other paintings that you sold through Christies are also now questionable. Read your contract carefully and notice that they (Christies) guarantees the item to be authentic and will reimburse a buyer if the item is ever identified as a forgery by an expert. Your contract also includes a clause that allows Christies to collect it's own resulting losses from you. It's doubtful they will however because they want people to consign with confidence. I'm fairly certain that if you carefully review your contract you will see that you have no grounds for legal action. If however, you believe that Christies has not upheld their side of the contractual agreement you should consult an attorney. I would also suggest that you refrain from discussing your case in public as doing so may have an adverse effects should the case ever be brought to litigation.

Sorry for your loss, I understand why you are disappointed but art is a risky business. Dan E.

Posted By: luke owens Wed, Sep 12, 2007

Dan E,
Thankyou for your comments, however I think you will find that if you read our posting, we are not apportioning blame in any direction. We are merely telling our story as a cautionary tale, so what's with all the legalese?
We have checked our contracts, and the time in which we would have had any legal or financial responsibilities has expired, and with reagrds to your suggestion that we refrain from discussing this in public, the last time I checked, we still have freedom of speach and this is the essence of a Forum.

Luke Owens.

Posted By: bunga Fri, Sep 28, 2007

having read your letters I just wonder as I have afriend- by his new enthusiastic hobby in collecting art pieces- several oil painting and water color by affandi in different year of time 1977, 1970,1978.
For oil painting they came along with certificate signed by then the manager of the museum Imam Munandar with the stamp of Museum Affandi.
After having done some small investigation we had acknowledge rumour that there were disputes between that person and Kartika affandi which one of other reason lead kartika to take over to manage the museum.
I dont have any idea whether such rumour was true.
The question now is such management take-over qualify kartika to claim the fake of the-suspectly- original painting by affandi for the certificate was not signed by authorized person? (which obviously at the time certificate been signed even kartika was not having authority to sign the aunthenticity of the paintings made by her father). The painting are genuienly made by affandy own hand only the certificate is not issued by the authorized person.
Does kartika incharge in management of the museum allow her to annul the certificate which have been issued before her taking over of the museum management?

The opinion and suggestion are very welcome.

Posted By: Thavibu Gallery Mon, Oct 01, 2007

I cannot comment on this specific case, but I know a case from Vietnam where the son of one of the country's most well known (late) painters is involved in the production of non-authentic works supposedly by his father. Naturally, he will happily sign an authenticity certificate.

This is known to 'everybody' who seriously deal with the artist's works, but many buyers are unaware.

Thus, the morale is that a certificate is only as trustworthy as the person who signs it.

Btw, I thought the auction houses (Sotheby's e.g.) do NOT guarantee authenticity of the works on sale.

Posted By: Luke Owens Thu, Oct 11, 2007

Today we recieved our Affandi back from Christies.
For Bungalila, below is a photograph of the Certificate for our Affandi-painted 1980-.It is also signed by Imam Munandar, and dated 1982.

Luke Owens.

Posted By: Vickky Angstrom Sun, Dec 09, 2007

Good heavens! If everyone has to be running about with these silly certificates we will never get anywhere as collectors. Surely your family memories of the where and when and how that you purchased these pictures along with the gallery catalogues should be enough.

The great artists of the world have much better things to do than run around making certificates --especially when they are young. I would never think that a certificate constituted better provenance than personal history -- particularly if it was authenticated by the next generation of hangers-on rather than the artist.

Let common sense prevail or the joy of meeting with and supporting young artists like Affandi was when my parents were collecting him will be lost in a ridiculous obsession with bureaucratic paperwork than does not compare to sitting with the artist and discussing their work.

Posted By: Amir Sidharta Sun, Jul 19, 2015

Museum Affandi has never been run by the government.

Posted By: Eliza Mon, Aug 19, 2019

Hello Luke,
I am a researcher from Australia currently writing about issues of painting authenticity in Indonesia. I have recently come across your Forum post and would be interested to speak with you about your Affandi paintings.
Please let me know if you are interested to speak further.
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