German gets compensated for fake paintings
A German art collector who bought fake paintings at a shop in Beijing was yesterday given back 90,000 yuan (US$11,000) he paid for the goods following an agreement in the capital.
The Wenzhijie Culture and Arts Service Centre, which sold the paintings to John Korfer, also had to pay him 57,500 yuan (US$6,900) in compensation.
Korfer originally bought five paintings from the Wenzhijie centre in 2002, thinking they were by famous artists.
The result was reached yesterday at the Beijing High People's Court following an out-of-court settlement.
Both parties said they were satisfied with the outcome.
Wenzhijie was initially ordered to pay Korfer 192,600 (US$23,300), including initial purchase fee of 90,000 yuan (US$11,000), compensation of 90,000 yuan (US$11,000) and 12,600 yuan (US$1,500) for the German's costs.
But the Wenzhijie centre disobeyed this judgment and appealed to the High People's Court last year.
Sources at the Wenzhijie centre claimed that they never intentionally cheated Korfer.
"As a person who often travels to Beijing to buy paintings, Korfer should have been aware that the paintings he bought were imitations due to the low price," the company said in its appeal to the High People's Court.
"Korfer declared the paintings to customs as imitations. So if he believed the drawings were real he was smuggling," said the appeal.
According to Chinese laws, works by artistic masters are cultural relics and are not allowed to leave the country.
But Korfer insisted that although he was interested in Chinese paintings, he was not familiar with prices.
The German also claimed that he was not informed by the seller that the paintings were imitations.
According to sources at the court, Korfer bought the five paintings at the Xu Beihong Memorial Hall in Beijing.
The Wenzhijie centre issued a receipt declaring the paintings were works by five late famous painters, such as Xu Beihong and Chen Shaomei.
After discovering that four of the five works were imitations, Korfer returned them in an attempt to get a refund of 90,000 yuan (US$11,000).
The Wenzhijie centre declined, but gave him another three paintings.
(China Daily 03/15/2005 page5)