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The Sale of Misattributed Artworks and Antiques at Auction

Anne L. Bandle

The glamour and mystery of the art auction, gathering interested buyers from across the globe, makes it one of the most fascinating marketplaces in existence. ‘Sleepers’, artworks or antiques that have been undervalued and mislabelled due to an expert’s oversight and consequently undersold, appear regularly. This fascinating new book provides the first extensive study of the phenomenon of sleepers through an in-depth analysis of the contractual relationships, liability and remedies that arise in the context of auction sales.
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Anne L. Bandle

This book is the result of my PhD thesis in law defended at the University of Geneva in 2015. The completion of my PhD thesis has been an exciting journey and I am very pleased to realise that sleepers and auction sales continue to fascinate me despite – or rather because of – having spent many hours scrutinising these themes.

I am very fortunate to have had two supervisors whose expertise, guidance and encouragements were a fundamental support for the achievement of this thesis. I am deeply indebted to Professor Marc-André Renold for his advice and criticism on my thesis, and for giving me the opportunity to teach and research in art and cultural heritage law. Working under his guidance was a truly invaluable and rewarding experience, and I am immensely grateful and proud for having started my academic path at the Art-Law Centre of the University of Geneva. I also owe an immense debt to Professor Tatiana Flessas, whose expertise and experience have taught and helped me significantly in my work and offered me a female academic role model. By continuously challenging the arguments and structure of my thesis, she led me to adopt a more critical, sound and outreaching approach. I am also eternally thankful for her trust and confidence by allowing me to teach my own classes at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I have learned a lot from both of my supervisors and I greatly admire their professional and personal achievements and approach. I cannot thank them enough.

I must acknowledge Professor Henry Peter for his suggestions and advice on my preliminary draft and for evaluating my work once again as a member of my thesis jury. I am also very thankful to Professor Christine Chappuis, Dr Friederike Countess von Brühl and Professor Luc Thévenoz for being part of my thesis jury. I was very privileged to defend my thesis to renowned scholars in the field of art law, dispute resolution and contract law. They have all critically engaged with my work and made invaluable comments during my defence, which helped me to improve this final version.

I would also like to express my special thanks to Pierre Gabus, for sharing his expertise, bringing a sleeper case to the Swiss Federal Court, and for the many educational opportunities to work collaboratively on conferences and publications.

I am also indebted to Professor Pierre Tercier, for his enriching seminars and valuable advice that guided my choice to pursue a thesis on alternative dispute resolution at the Art-Law Centre in Geneva.

Since the beginning of my PhD research, I had the privilege of meeting many knowledgeable experts and to have enriching and fascinating discussions about sleepers, the auction business and art authentication. In particular, I am indebted to Bruno Boesch, Tom Christopherson, Philip Mould, Jean-Pierre Seurat, Pierre Valentin, Martin Wilson and to the participants of the round table discussion on art authentication rules at the LSE, Stefanie Berloffa-Spadafora, Sarah Charles, Roland Foord, Professor Martin Kemp and Professor Norman Palmer. Not only did they give me their time, but they also bared their thoughts and engaged in critical thinking which was fundamental to my understanding of the art world.

I would also like to thank Andrea Wallace for arduously processing my writing and replacing any French expressions. I express my gratitude to the Swiss National Science Foundation for its financial assistance which allowed me to take part in the research at the Art-Law Centre on the resolution of art and cultural heritage restitution disputes while completing my PhD. The opportunity to work at the Art-Law Centre provided me with valuable insights into the field of art and cultural heritage law and a network of experts which has been truly beneficial to my research.

Through all these years, I was fortunate to be surrounded by many wonderful friends and colleagues. It would be impossible to mention all of them here, but without their moral support and standing by my side, accomplishing this work would have been difficult if not impossible.

Finally, I would like to thank my brother, Nicolas Bandle, for brightening my life with his love, encouragements and music. And foremost, I am truly and deeply indebted to my parents, Ann and Alain Bandle, for their love and infinite support through my entire life, without which I would not have accomplished this result. To you, I dedicate this work.

Geneva, February 2016