London Gallery Envie d’Art Sells Painting by Mistake, Gives Client “Ugly Copy” as Real Deal

A London art gallery sold a client’s painting by mistake and, when asked to return it, gave the client an “ugly copy,” commissioned “in a panic” to cover up the error, the Evening Standard reports.

The incident was set in motion when a client asked Envie d’art to store a painting by Florent Chopin, whom the gallery represents, while his home was being renovated.

When the client asked for the £5,000 painting to be returned three years later, the gallery claimed they were having trouble locating it. After three weeks the gallery manager, Geraldine Hassler, told him that the painting had been found in the Parisian branch of the gallery.

But when the client hung the Chopin painting back at his home, something was wrong. He eventually found that the artwork had a signature dated 2014, three years after he had originally bought the artwork.

“[Hassler] apparently panicked when the client had asked for it back and ordered a new commission ‘in the spirit’ of the painting he had bought, for a ‘client’,” a source told the Standard.

But the client wasn’t fooled, and is now threatening the gallery with legal action. He sought a full refund plus a £3,600 painting, but Envie d’art has refused, offering a £5,000 refund or credit note plus 50 percent, instead.

Yann Bombard, the gallery owner, claimed he knew nothing of the con, saying the mistake was Hassler’s alone.

According to the Standard, when asked for comment, Hassler she said: “Yann has replied to you. […] I have nothing to add.[…] As far as we are concerned we refunded the client. It’s finished.”

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