I am of the opinion that the lawyer is untrustworthy – that is, the one who came in at the last moment, the brother. Photocopies of the letters sent – oh, puh-lease! Not only could any reputable calligrapher done same, but why would the old dear keep the letters rather than sending them off, and, if they are copies, why would she bother to someone that close to her?! This is just my opinion, of course. After all, so many lawyers are above repute. They’re famous for it. Well, they are, aren’t they?

And Sotheby’s, not sending the catalogue, not speaking to the person involved, the sister? Yeah, right! Believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

I think it’s just moneygrubbing.

Dear Leonie,

thank you for the offer of a bridge(!) and those passionate thoughts. Copies of letters do not matter, because we think family documents certainly proved the original provenance of the Homer painting, but that Southebys tried to do due dilligence too and a family woke up to monetary value later at Myrtle Grove. What they didn’t prove was what had happened afterwards and why the works turned up where they did. They could have been lost, discarded, stolen or sold on. As for moneygrubbing, well yes, money surely reared its ugly head, just as it defines the entire art world. We don’t know what has happened in the story, and our sympathies are much with the finder, though families too can wake up to their own heritage. But we still think a pratical solution is some decent equity, some care for the human journey made by the finder, not with any supposed cultural superiority about money, or what anyone has a right to spend it on, some way to get a finely restored painting back in front of American eyes too. Art is part made in money and commissions, but out of the spirit of a real artist, also made for the whole world, and it would seem a human ending to see it sold to and exhibited in an appropriate American museum. If we find out any more we will keep you posted.

Phoneix Ark Press

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