No appeal for dealer who sold fake artwork

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A court has quashed a Long Melford man’s bid to use fresh evidence to prove that sketches he sold were made by Francis Bacon.

David Edwards – whose brother John was Bacon’s friend and inherited his entire estate – was left bankrupt by legal action brought by disgruntled buyers who paid him £1.3million for 12 drawings that have since been declared fake.

In May last year, his boyfriend of 40 years, John Tanner, was ordered to hand over £425,000 – given to him by Mr Edwards before his bankruptcy – to Mr Edwards’ creditors.

In June 2007, Mr Edwards agreed to sell a collection of six drawings – along with lithographs, photographs and other items connected to the artist – to buyers for £1million. In August that year, he sold a further six drawings for £300,000.

But the Francis Bacon Authentication Committee told buyers a year ago “the draftsmanship is of a style which is inconsistent with all the sketches and paintings currently attributed to Bacon”. Martin Harrison, chairman of the committee, said the drawings were “fakes”.

Buyers’ experts estimated that, if the drawings were genuine, they would be worth more than £3 million. However, their actual value was put at just over £480.

In January, the High Court rejected a bid by Mr Tanner, director of Melford Antiques Warehouse in Hall Street, to introduce fresh evidence he claimed proved the sketches were genuine.

Appealing that decision last week, Mr Tanner’s barrister, Arfan Khan, told Lady Justice Arden that his previous legal team appeared to have overlooked the importance of crucial evidence.

This included a statement from Ambra Draghetti, a leading graphologist, who said: “The signatures found in the Italian drawings are representative of Bacon’s handwriting, and therefore are authentic signatures.”

But, refusing Mr Tanner permission to appeal, Lady Justice Arden said the evidence should have been presented at the original hearing.

She said: “The question is whether a reasonable litigant would have been able to do it.

“The fault was on the side of the party seeking to adduce the evidence. In these circumstances, I do not consider that there is any basis on which I could grant permission to appeal.”