David Nahmad Claims to Own $14 Million Monet Painting Embroiled in Jho Low Investigation

Was the seizure a "mistake"?

Art dealer David Nahmad poses in a room of the exhibition dedicated to Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, on July 12, 2013 at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. Courtesy of VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images.

The US Justice Department is moving to seize $1 billion in artworks, luxury properties, and other assets owned by Malaysian financier Jho Low, but their efforts may be stymied by art dealer David Nahmad.

Investigators believe that Low purchased his the work, including four Impressionist masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, using money from government investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

The Justice Department has pending civil forfeiture suits, but Nahmad has filed an affidavit with the US District Court in California claiming that one of the works in question, Monet’s Water Lilies With Reflections of Tall Grass (1914–17) actually belongs to him.

Claude Monet, Water Lilies With Reflections of Tall Grass (1914–17). Courtesy of Sotheby's London, via Wikimedia Commons.

Claude Monet, Water Lilies With Reflections of Tall Grass (1914–17). Courtesy of Sotheby’s London, via Wikimedia Commons.

Nahmad acquired the painting at Sotheby’s London from a “distinguished private collection” for £9 million ($14.16 million) at the 2013 Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale. The painting’s provenance noted that the piece belonged to Michel Monet, the artist’s younger son by his first wife, Camille Doncieux, who sold it to Parisian art dealer Katia Granoff in the 1950s.

“My painting has been solely owned and possessed by me since its purchase up to the present time,” wrote the Monaco-based collector in the filing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nahmad told the WSJ that the attempted seizure was “a mistake.” The confusion appears to have arisen because there is a 2014 invoice that shows Nahmad was planning to sell the canvas, along with another work by Monet, to Low for $22.5 million.

While Nahmad admits that Low did send him an initial payment of $2.25 million in a April 2014 wire transfer, he claims that the deal ultimately fell through.


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