“Sotheby’s respects and maintains the confidentiality of senders and purchasers, and does not comment on matters that are not public records,” the statement read. Auctioned in 1994.”
The Chagall family hung for years on the wall of the bedroom that Mrs. Clegg shared with her husband, Alfred John Clegg, before going into the pantry when she moved into a smaller house. That’s where it was, she said, when Sotheby’s suggested in early 2020 that if it was interested in selling items, its Chagall might do well, among others. The work was later transferred to Comité Marc Chagall, a committee of experts established in 1988 that makes decisions on the authenticity of works attributed to the artist.
In late 2020, the commission released its findings regarding its work. In a letter to Mrs. Clegg, Merritt Meyer, one of Chagall’s granddaughters and a member of the commission, stated that she unanimously found the work to be unoriginal, adding that it was a mixture of several other works including “Le couple au bouquet,” from about 1952, and “Les amoureux au cheval” from 1961.
The commission wrote that Mrs. Clegg’s painting featured “recurring iconic elements of Chagall’s work”, including a bouquet, lovers, a profile of horses, an image of a rooster, a silhouette of a village and a crescent, but these lacked “true presence”. Translation provided by Mrs. Clegg’s attorney. The letter went on to say that Chagall’s heirs were requesting a “judicial seizure” of the painting “so that the work could be destroyed”.
In France, courts have recognized the power of expert committees to destroy works identified as counterfeit.