Caravaggio’s Cardsharps on Trial

Thwaytes v. Sotheby’s

Richard E. Spear

Caravaggio’s Cardsharps on Trial

Richard E. Spear

Distributed for Paul Holberton Publishing

384 pages | 66 color plates, 20 halftones | 6 3/4 x 9 3/4
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9781916237810 Published June 2020 For sale in North America only
This vivid, handsomely illustrated account of Thwaytes v. Sotheby’s—one of the major art trials of recent times—will be of interest to dealers, conservators, and lawyers as well as all admirers of Caravaggio. In 2006, a Caravaggio scholar bought a version of the painter’s famous Cardsharps at Sotheby’s in London for just fifty thousand pounds. He then announced the piece was not a replica, as Sotheby’s had stated, but was in fact Caravaggio’s first version of the masterpiece—potentially worth up to fifty million pounds.
 
Shocked by the news, Lancelot Thwaytes, who had consigned the painting to Sotheby’s, sued the auction house for negligence, and the case came to trial at the High Court in London in 2014. This detailed account of Thwaytes v. Sotheby’s is told from the inside by an eminent art historian who acted as an expert witness in the case. The verdict had far-reaching implications for the art world, and a question that has been much debated by scholars—whether or not Caravaggio made replicas of his own paintings—ended up becoming a judicial matter.
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