The Swiss art dealer, Alain Dreyfus, bought in 2008 at Christie’s auction a picture of a French artist, a representative of the impressionist Alfred Sisley, “The First Day of Spring on the Sea”, written by a famous author in 1889. The work was cost to the art dealer for almost $ 340 thousand, and he even had no idea that he would not be able to resell it more.
It all began in 2016 when representatives of Canadian company Mondex, who specializes in finding stolen works of art, were contacted by Dreyfus. Dreyfus was told that Sisley’s painting in 1940 was stolen by the Nazis, and before that belonged to the Jewish family Lindenbaum, whose descendants were the rightful owners of the painting. As evidence, Mondex’s representatives provided documents dating back to the Second World War, where “The First Day of Spring on the Mory” is mentioned by the Nazis in the list of confiscated.
Soon, the Swiss police joined the case and banned Dreyfus from selling the work or showing it at exhibitions. The dealer expressed readiness to give a picture to the heirs of Lindenbaum’s family, but only after Christie’s compensated him losses: from the auction house he demanded payment of about $ 800 thousand. Dreyfus also threatened to appeal to the court and to bring Christie’s to justice for misleading him by selling the picture.
Representatives of Christie’s, commenting on the charges, withdrew their responsibility for the situation: “Before the sale of works, we carefully study their history. In the case of Sisley’s painting as of 2008, there was no information that she was abducted by the Nazis. “