The online event, held as a Zoom webinar on December 3, included panel discussions, case-studies and presentations from a range of academics, dealers, auctioneers and lawyers. The six different sessions focused on research, restitutions, forgeries, legal criteria, collecting and the future of provenance.
The event coincided with the publication of the book Provenance Research Today: Principles, Practice, Problems edited by Arthur Tompkins (published by Lund Humphries, ISBN: 9781848222762) which deals with key aspects of provenance research for the international art market including specifically Nazi-looted art and illicit antiquities.
The first session of the conference was a guide to research tools and practices with the speakers being Leonardo expert Martin Kemp of Art Trinity College, Oxford who gave an insight into how the provenance of Salvator Mundi was traced; Dr Eileen Costello, director of the Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné; and Richard Aronowitz-Mercer, European Head of Restitution at Sotheby's, London who presented a case-study on two versions of Max Liebermann’s Two Riders on a Beach (one of which had been discovered in the famous Gurlitt hoard and later sold for £1.55m at Sotheby’s in June 2015).
Former Christie’s chairman of Impressionist and Modern art Thomas Seydoux, who is now a dealer, gave a talk on provenance and forgeries with specific details on the The Beltracchi Affair – German art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi who was arrested in 2010 faked ownership and exhibition labels as well as the works themselves. A panel discussion on provenance and the law also included contributions from Martin Wilson, general counsel of auction house Phillips; dealer Nicholas Maclean of Eykyn Maclean who is chair of the Society of London Art Dealers; and lawyer Pierre Valentin, partner of Constantine Cannon LLP.