Twenty Years Later :
“Fakes” that Turned out to Be Genuine
At the beginning of the 1980s a vast ensemble of works on paper by Mikhail Larionov surfaced in Western Europe (initially in Paris, then in Berlin, Zurich and Stockholm). It consisted of several hundred pastels, gouaches, watercolours, pen-and-ink drawings, coloured-pencil drawings and works in other media. During the winter of 1984-85 I was asked several times to authenticate some of these pastels, gouaches and watercolours. Thitherto unknown, these works were presented to me accompanied by fanciful references which made it extremely difficult to check their provenance. At the time scholars were unable to access both Soviet archives and those of the artist’s widow, and thus it was virtually impossible to carry out the documentary research necessary for indisputably establishing the provenance of this body of works1. The only way of giving them an attribution them was by means of a visual, physical and stylistic examination.
The overwhelming majority of these works bore a full signature or artist’s monogram in Cyrillic characters. For the most part they were works of considerable quality ; in certain cases they belonged to a type as yet unknown in the artist’s output. All of the works I was given to examine seemed to belong to the artist’s Russian period, in other words to a period prior to the summer of 1915. At the time art on paper by Larionov of this type and from this period were almost unknown in Western Europe and, like other works of the “Russian avant-garde,” had been studied very little, if not completely neglected.
In June 1915 Larionov, responding to an invitation by Serge Diaghilev, had left Moscow for Lausanne in the belief that he would return to Russia shortly thereafter. Gravely wounded on Russia’s western front, the painter had intended to convalesce abroad while his companion, Natalya Goncharova, worked on stage designs for Serge Diaghilev, whose fame had already spread beyond Russia’s borders. Seriously impaired by his wound, the painter’s health had later negatively affected his ability to produce art, the quality of which had declined during the 1920s and 30s and had later slumped even further. It would thus be no exaggeration to say that there are two painters in Larionov, before and after 1915.
Leaving Moscow on the spur of the moment for a trip that was to have lasted no more than several weeks or at most several months, Larionov had left the body of his works in his studio. After settling in Paris at the end of 1917, he had sought during the ensuing decade to retrieve his Russian output. In the mid-20s he had succeeded at the cost of immense efforts to have a number of his paintings (oils on canvases) sent from Moscow, as well as the paintings which had been dispatched, following the 1914 Paris show, to Herwarth Walden’s “Der Sturm” gallery with a view to exhibiting them in Berlin.
A History of Censorship
At the time I examined the works on paper in question here, the mid-80s, the scholarship devoted to Larionov’s art was as yet shadowy. Prohibited in the artist’s own country due to his status as an “anti-Soviet” émigré and previously rejected for aesthetic reasons, Larionov was neither exhibited nor studied. His art remained confined to the purgatory of “bourgeois decadence” and was consequently opposed by the tight-lipped guardians of Socialist Realism. As a result a retrospective of his work scheduled to be held in 1980 at Leningrad’s Russian Museum was downgraded at the last minute to a simple display, the State censorship having forbidden the publication of the catalogue.
In Western Europe, the few documents the artist had managed to collect with great effort were in the hands of his widow in Paris, whose lack of expertise in art history proved unequal to her fervent devotion to the artist’s memory. Ailing and elderly, Alexandra Tomiline-Larionov was then living in the suburbs of Paris. Placed by her Swiss dealer François Daulte in a private clinic in Lausanne (Switzerland), she died on 14 September 1987. As we shall see, the date of her death had considerable significance in the story that follows.
It will be recalled that in the mid-80s when I had access to the greater part of this vast collection of works on paper, the Soviet archives were still solidly closed to both Russian and Western scholars. As one of the first persons to consult them, I only had access to them in the autumn of 1987, and this with certain restrictions, the area of my investigations being mainly limited to Kazimir Malewicz and Aleksandra Exter.
Owing to ideological prohibitions, studies in this field by Russian (as yet “Soviet”) art historians – with all that this implied in terms of self-censorship – were few and far between. As one of them was to declare in the spring of 1988 in the official Sovetskaya Kultura, “the reason for the ignorance surrounding Larionov’s oeuvre” was principally due to the (political) situation of Russia: work on this subject was not only discouraged for social reasons, thus rendering research in this area particularly difficult, but mainly it was known to be unproductive, for there was no chance that it could be made public, still less acknowledged, and it was virtually inconceivable that it would be published. The non-appearance of the 1980 exhibition catalogue is a case in point.
As I came to realize in the course of research following the closing of the 1987-88 exhibition, the first important selection of works I was asked to examine in Paris during the spring of 1985 by no means encompassed the entire body of Larionov’s pre-1915 works on paper. However, the large number of works I was able to examine singly, their stylistic variety and above all their considerable plastic quality soon convinced me that what I was looking at was a “golden” treasure trove. My researches in Russia throughout the 1990s subsequently enabled me to establish that this was simply the artist’s finest work, which had been saved from the looting and destruction that had followed the disorders of the winter of 1918 and especially 1919, in the wake of the October Revolution. Thanks to the fact that I was shortly given access to certain private sources, was able to have discussions with my counterparts in Moscow and, above all, to carry on my investigations at the Moscow RGALI (Art and Literature Archives), I was able to collect trustworthy information and discover documentary evidence of the peregrinations of these works between 19192 and the early 1980s.
A Banned Art
In Moscow I thus learned that the existence of this body of works on paper was confirmed by the very few Russian art and literature historians to have taken an interest during the 1960s and 70s in Larionov’s art and that of the Russian Futurists (Nikolai Khardziev, Rudolf Duganov and especially the art historian Aleksandr Kovalev, 1944-1992, whose work was published posthumously in 2005.)3 Research undertaken in view of the aborted Russian Museum exhibition in Leningrad had led one of the organizers, Aleksandr Gubarev, to examine the works from the studio, which in 1980 were still in the hands of the architect Nikolai D. Vinogradov (1885-1980). Dedicated to protecting historical monuments and artworks, Vinogradov, a friend of Larionov’s in Moscow, had in the 1920s saved the body of work in the artist’s studio from destruction4. Alien to artistic circles and almost blind at the end of his days, Vinogradov, an archaeologist and architecture historian who had never adhered to modernist avant-garde theories, still less to “Futurist” ones, had totally lost interest in the Larionov archives which had been in his possession for several decades. In his eyes they were “historical” documents; he had saved them many years earlier and for this reason they were no longer present in the forefront of his mind. Nevertheless, his renewed contacts with the curators of the Mayakovsky Museum shortly before his death were to result in bringing to light part of the vast archives and disparate collection of documents that he had preserved from anti-modernist destruction5. What ensued thereafter was part of dramatic, turbulent 20th-century Russian history and, in the end, that of the history of Russian emigration, especially Jewish emigration, which unfolded at a particularly accelerated pace in the final troubled years of the Brezhnev era (the seventies).
During my initial contacts with substantial portions of this corpus I was mainly asked to authenticate Rayonist works, as this was the only aspect of Larionov’s oeuvre to arouse any interest in the West – an interest, I may add, limited to a handful of connoisseurs.
The poor knowledge of Larionov’s art at the time and specifically the condescension with which Russian Expressionist and Futurist productions were generally regarded then were such that I became aware of the existence of the artist’s extraordinary Expressionist pen-and-ink works (portraits and scenes) until only a few months later, almost by accident. Judging them “devoid of interest” (from the commercial viewpoint), it had not even occurred to the original owner to show them to me.
As an art historian chiefly interested at the time in studying the origins of abstract art, I was far more drawn to Futurist and Expressionist works, which in my view gave one a better understanding of Larionov’s approach, notably the principle behind his pictorial development, and consequently the advent of Rayonism, that first blossoming of abstract art to emerge in Russia from the Impressionist and Futurist adventures of modern art.
Chiefly occupied with a lengthy study of Kazimir Malevich’s art, I had little time to devote to examining these works on paper notwithstanding my high regard for the quality of Larionov’s output. Making such an examination all the more arduous was the fact that the access to the artist’s personal documents was blocked by his aged, ailing widow and by several less than scrupulous Parisian art dealers – circumstances that were hardly congenial to undertaking an exhaustive examination6.
An Objective Look
In late 1986, I was approached almost simultaneously by the directors of two Western European museums, Geneva’s Musée d’Art de d’Histoire and the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt. The latter had begun to hold exhibitions of Russian avant-garde art, which was beginning to arouse interest nearly everywhere in Western Europe, especially in Germany. Strapped for time I initially refused to undertake organizing any kind of exhibition. However, recalling the existence of Larionov’s works on paper which I had recently examined, I changed my mind and to the two museum directors suggested exhibiting them. Their response was immediate and enthusiastic. The main reason for this was the quality of the works in question. Carrying on my investigation into what had led Larionov to his first abstract work, the Rayonist compositions of 1912, I soon settled on a selection of representative works and gave the exhibition an appropriate title “The Path to Abstraction”7. Paradoxically, the task of making the selection was made easier by the fact, as one of the owners of the artist’s works said to me, “These works may be of interest for art historians but nor for anyone else. They are simply unsellable.”
The exhibition was assembled in barely two months. I rapidly wrote a catalogue; in the absence of detailed comments on the individual works, a difficult if not impossible task at the time, I strove to provide a substantial section of source documents. The show, which opened on the 9-th of April 1987 in Frankfurt, was an undeniable success8, German art audiences being particularly responsive to the Expressionist side of Larionov’s work, a work closely linked to the art of the Munich group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), with which Larionov was regularly in touch in 1910, 1911 and 1912. Having established amicable relations with Wassily Kandinsky in Moscow, Larionov had invited several members of the group to participate in the exhibitions he had organized in Moscow. In 1912 he had taken part in turn in the second “Blue Rider” exhibition in Munch.
Acceptance of my authentication of Larionov’s works was unanimous. My North American and European colleagues who assembled exhibition catalogues for works of the same provenance immediately accepted my attributions. These exhibitions were held in private galleries in Zurich, Stockholm, New York and Montreal, as well as at the Museum of Modern Art in Winnipeg (Canada)9).
Moreover, as I was to learn from the lips of François Daulte in the course of the legal proceedings that followed10, the artist’ widow Alexandra Tomiline-Larionov had also confirmed the works’ authenticity, having seen the catalogue of my Frankfurt exhibition in May 1987. Thus Larionov’s works in paper from this source undeniably gained acceptance in 1987, and even a certain measure of fame.
Continuing the momentum of its Frankfurt success, “The Path to Abstraction” opened in September 1987 at the Palazzo Pepoli in Bologna (Italy), as one of the events previewing that city’s new modern art museum11. Having gone back to my research on Malewicz, I viewed this experience as a closed chapter in my professional life. Furthermore I was involved at this time in a large-scale venture, a major “Dada and Constructivism” exhibition, which opened shortly afterward in Japanese museums (Tokyo and Kamakura)12. I was keenly interested in the work of preparing this show, though it led in a direction far removed from the Expressionist and Rayonist preoccupations of Larionov’s lyrical abstraction.
Concocting a Scandal
In March 1988 the exhibition “The Path to Abstraction” opened in its final venue, the Musée d’Art et Histoire in Geneva, where it garnered the same praise it had received in Germany a year earlier13. My only task at the time consisted in hanging the pictures.
Early in April 1988, about three weeks after the Swiss show opened, I was somewhat surprised and in fact irritated by what I wrongly regarded as a joke in poor taste, to get a phone call one evening from an unknown Geneva journalist. This person, who manifestly had no artistic knowledge and did not even claim to have any, or so it seemed to me, asked me if I had any comments regarding the authenticity of the works in the exhibition, as “several experts who wish to remain anonymous” (!) “have stated that all the works in the exhibition are fakes.” This was alleged to have been confirmed by a chemical analysis of pigments said to date “later than 1941.” I brushed away these allegations without making a comment, a mistake, for I was soon to learn that this was only the beginning of a skilfully orchestrated press attack.
Conducted by professionals, this campaign was launched simultaneously in several Swiss publications, chiefly the Geneva daily paper La Tribune de Genève14 and on television. The Tribune’s “revelations” were immediately picked up by the German and American press. Evidence of the professional nature of this work was the fact that a few weeks later, on the day of my (private) arrival in Tokyo, I was welcomed by a local Japanese newspaper printing news of the “Larionov scandal” in Europe. I remind the reader that the artist’s widow having died in the interval (on 14 September 1987) there was nothing henceforth to prevent putting the authenticity of his works into question. As I was to discover some years later, following her death François Daulte, the principal (but not the only) instigator of the authenticity controversy, had “cleaned out” her Paris home with complete impunity15.
Fuelled by Daulte, formerly Alexandra Tomiline-Larionov’s acknowledged dealer with financial interests in the Francophone Swiss press, as well as by two New York gallery owners16 who, I was later to find out, had unsuccessfully attempted to buy Larionov pastels on the European market, the press campaign progressed with all the violence inherent in such undertakings. Every type of amalgam was brought into play, including innuendoes that I was “a KGB agent,” the “secret proprietor” of the works in question, the mastermind “who commissioned them” and so forth17. Throughout this period of attacks, as violent as they were fanciful, the press was shut to me, and this was to remain the case until the mid-90s, except for a few rare occasions when I was given an opportunity to respond, invariably following legal proceedings I had initiated18.
In the Absence of Specialists the Market Rules Supreme
From the viewpoint of art history the disputed authenticity of Larionov’s works was totally vapid. Intimidated by the fallacious press revelations, the art historians and crypto-art historians who had all initially adopted my attributions suddenly vanished from the scene. Not one of them had the courage to assert a personal opinion. Petrified by the spectre of fake artworks, not one of them addressed me, not even in a private capacity, to ask me to comment on the matter. Thus during a colloquium organized in Paris in 1995, a purportedly scientific meeting of museum specialists where François Daulte was received with open arms, the Belgian art historian delegated to give an apparently improvised presentation of the “Larionov affair” summed up his talk by merely reading extracts of press articles devoted to it (without mentioning any of my responses). Not having been invited to speak, I was obliged to interrupt the proceedings in order to acquaint the participants with at least some of the facts in the case.
Reduced to the sole dimension of a news item, the press, with an undisguised appetite for scandal, carried only those accusations formulated by the art business (chiefly François Daulte, who never shrunk from giving accusatory interviews). A somewhat disputed specialist of French Impressionism (the dissemination of his Catalogue Raisonné of Renoir had been legally stopped in France by the artist’s descendants), Daulte suddenly presented himself in Geneva as a Larionov expert. This was a largely usurped title based on a few superficial articles and catalogue prefaces for commercial exhibitions.
Unable to answer my questions at a public confrontation that he himself had organized (on a programme for the Television Suisse Romande on 24 March 1988), Daulte beat a hasty retreat by saying he did not claim to be a specialist of either the period or of the Russian School, contrary to what he had clamoured to the Swiss press and in his “denunciation” filed with the Swiss courts on the highly symbolic date of 14 September 198719.
During those last years of the Soviet regime, the same François Daulte organized a parallel dispute in Russia in the form of an “open letter” published in the Moscow weekly Sovetskaya kultura [Soviet Culture]20. Countersigned by three Soviet art historians, who seemed unembarrassed at confessing that they had not even seen the exhibition, this missive nevertheless condemned the whole body of the artist’s works on show. In the same breath the authors declared openly that they were unable to judge the works in question “having not been able to study sufficiently the art of the 1907-1915 period.”
Beyond the Issue of the Pastels: Signatures, Iconography and Documents
Lacking stylistic and specifically artistic arguments (historical, literary and so on), the attack on the exhibition rested on the so-called presence of certain pigments (famously titanium white, T102) said not to have been produced commercially until well after the dates I had proposed for the works. My accusers in America even cited the date of 1941 for the commercialization of titanium oxide (T102)… in the United States. However, European patents show clearly that this pigment appeared some twenty years earlier (the Norwegian chemist Farup patented it in 1917) and was marketed at the latest from 1920-22 (by the firm of Lefranc et Bourgeois in France and by Winston & Newton in England, not to mention Russian manufacturers, who were simply not mentioned). What is more, the fact that about sixty percent of the exhibition consisting in pastels, the remaining forty percent – gouaches, watercolours and pen-and-ink drawings – was never taken in account. The latter included a large number of urban scenes and portraits, easily identifiable subjects which lent themselves to being examined from other vantage points than the sole issue of pigments. Manifestly, what the exhibition’s opponents were aiming for was a flat, blanket condemnation…
All of the works were signed or at least monogrammed. Several of the pen-and-ink works bore inscriptions. The logical thing would therefore have been to verify the authenticity of the signatures and the inscriptions. I lost no time in doing so. The expert I contacted in Paris21
confirmed that the handwriting was indeed that of the artist22. As for the inscriptions in Cyrillic writing, I asked for a new expert opinion in Moscow twenty years later. The result of this examination, far richer and more detailed than the earlier one, confirmed that the signatures were definitely Larionov’s23. Like many other findings I submitted to the court in Geneva, this result was submerged in the commotion of what remained a pre-programmed denigration of the works in the exhibition.
Report on the graphological analysis, Moscow Centre for Legal Analyses
Thanks to iconographic and simple historical research I later conducted in Moscow I was able to identify the location of some of the scenes the artist had represented (views of the Kremlin, courtyard of the building on Treypudny Lane where Goncharova and Larionov had had their studios) as well as actual persons other than those featured in the exhibition works (the figures in the works reproduced in the exhibition catalogue were drawn from the artist’s immediate entourage: his companion Goncharova, Vladirmir Tatlin, the composer and painter Mikhail Matiushin, David Burliuk, the poets Mayakovsky, Kruchenykh and Khlebnikov.
My Moscow colleagues Rudolf Duganov and Aleksandr Niktaev helped me identify other persons. By the mid-1990s they had made sure that this information was partly published in Moscow24. Thanks to their historical knowledge I was even able to identify a number of locations and to determine the circumstances behind many of the portraits. From some of the sitters present in the portraits it was plain that the artist and his Futurist friends met frequently in the student quarters of the Liapin brothers on Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street. At other times they frequented the Burliuk brothers’ younger sister’s lodging at the music conservatory known as the “Romanovka.” This information was subsequently corroborated by what remained of the Vinogradov archives in the possession of his Moscow heirs25. In short, the gallery of sitters before one’s eyes constituted a virtual guestbook of Moscow Futurists.
The handwritten annotations by the former owner of a great number of Larionov’s lithographs were an indication that he attached little artistic merit to them, for he had used the back of them to take notes in connection with his bibliographic work (making it possible to bear out yet again that Nikolai Vinogradov had been their initial owner)26.
History of the Pigments: Analyses and Period Documents
As for the incriminated pigments – the starting point of the press campaign (8 April 1988) – the presence of Titanium White (T102) was, so to speak, the banner that the accusation raised. When I had occasion to speak out publicly on this issue and to voice doubts based on historical considerations, especially Russian ones (a subject that had carefully been avoided earlier), this pigment suddenly vanished from the discourse of my opponents and was replaced by Manganese Blue27. However, Manganese Blue had been in existence since the mid-nineteenth century !
No reliable authority was cited in connection with the pigments that Larionov used for the simple reason that up until then no one had studied the artist’s pigments. Put into a corner as a result of the press campaign and the legal injunctions of my lawyer Maître Pierre Schifferli, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire made public several weeks after the exhibition had closed results of “analyses” purportedly “carried out in it own laboratory.” But it turned out in the course of court hearings that there were no physical traces of these so-called examinations : they had not been “documented,” which amounts to admitting that they had simply never existed28.
On my side, and in a private capacity, I had had pastels of the same provenance analysed. Consequently I was able to accurately identify the hue of white Larionov used: Zinc White with a substantial addition of barium (Ba). Independent chemists at several laboratories belonging to the CNRS (Grenoble, Lyon, Cadarache and Nancy) performed these analyses. The synthesis was made at the Cara laboratory in Avignon (report dated 19 April 1989). The Geneva court having appointed a Swiss expert, a legal confrontation was held on 17 November 1992. Subsequently requested supplementary analyses confirmed the findings of the 19 April 1989 analysis, namely that the pigments of the incriminated pastels contained no traces of synthetic Titanium White. Furthermore analyses carried out in 1995 at the laboratory of the Musées de France (the Louvre laboratory in Paris) on Larionov works donated to the French national museums also revealed the presence of Zinc White containing a substantial amount of barium in the artist’s paintings, which had come directly from the widow’s estate and thus constituted an indisputable reference29.
Pursuing my historical investigations I succeeded in finding in the early 1990s handwritten documents by Larionov dating from the period 1911-12, in which he specified the names of products manufactured in the Moscow factory of Dosekin and recommended them to his friend Kandinsky30. Thanks to the unpublished correspondence between the artists I was able to conclude the historical investigations I had been obliged to undertake as a result of the vicious onslaught on the authenticity of the works in “The Path to Abstraction” exhibition.
Slander Away, Something Always Remains
Prompted by my determination to establish the truth regarding the authenticity of the works in the exhibition, at once for myself and for the public in general, I had a bailiff seize all of the exhibited works when the exhibition closed and with the agreement of the director of the Geneva museum31. I did this for two reasons: firstly I did not want the works to disappear for any reason whatsoever (panic of the owners or any other kind of reason). Secondly, suspecting fraudulent manipulations, I was afraid that criminal hands might get hold of them. My only motive was to ensure that the works were safeguarded, so that the truth could be demonstrated and no less so that they were protected from being destroyed, as François Daulte, his colleagues and the officials of City of Geneva who had ranged themselves in his camp were requesting with insistence. Thus when the City of Geneva felt obliged to file a criminal action against me, hoping to silence my objections and to have the public prosecutor sequester the works, the latter was surprised to learn that they had already been sequestered — at my request.
In the course of proceedings, which were intentionally drawn out in order to exhaust all legal deadlines, I discovered that the American chemical analyses that had spearheaded the attack of the New York dealers had in fact been anything but genuine. The document was merely a convenience certificate, unlike the previous document by the same Chicago laboratory that had stated that the pigments were authentic32. The judicial inquiry was in fact permanently distorted by fallacious documents, fake letters and false affidavits, up to a false “criminal” file that someone sent Interpol, which then forwarded it to the examining magistrate in Geneva. This piece of extravagance induced me to contact the “Informatique et Liberté” Commission in France, which confirmed my suspicions33. It would be fastidious of me to list the fake journalists who contacted me and the fake letters of insult I received. A Swiss television team was even sent to interview me. But although scheduled to be aired early in September 1988, as announced in the Geneva press, the interview was called off at the last minute34. Once again I was prevented from speaking out in public.
Quantities of articles circulated from one periodical to another and continue even today at intervals to fuel rear-guard actions35. In 1993, I even succeeded in getting the Tribune de Geneva condemned for printing defamatory statements – a very rare occurrence in Switzerland. Whenever I initiated a new legal action I gained a “right to respond” in the press. In an ultimate ironic twist the bombastic reports of the Geneva reporter who let herself be lured into what she had hoped would be a “scoop” were awarded a prize for “the best Swiss reports” for 1988.
On 10 November 1995 the court in Geneva finally dismissed the case. Losing no time, one of the parties who had signed the scandal-mongering “open letter” of 1988 changed his mind and, with a few reserves, accepted the authenticity of the works in question36. Several other art historians followed timidly in his footsteps, though the majority of them are still waiting for an official confirmation to range themselves on the side of authorized opinion. Still, the affair seemed to have been laid to rest when the City of Geneva then proceeded to initiate proceedings, not against the organizers of the exhibition, but against the works themselves37. A plea was again entered for them to be purely and simply destroyed.
A second legal battle ensued. I registered as a plaintiff on behalf of the works against the City of Geneva, which continued to sue for their destruction an the grounds that they were “fakes”38. At the end of several years of legal battle, the court arrived at a typically Swiss conclusion: “neither for nor against, but precisely the opposite.” It allowed that the works could be returned to their owners provided that they bore on their on the back a stamp stating that they were “fakes” and that they had featured in the 1988 exhibition. This absurd mark39 now constitutes a highly original proof of the part the works played in the modern perception of Larionov’s art and the beginnings of abstract painting, a still somewhat controversial subject, as it happens. The conclusion would seem to be that art history is not fashioned in labyrinthine legal proceedings and even less so in the lucubrations of large-circulation newspapers. As for the future of this essential part of Mikhail Larionov’s work it is again available for exhibitions; it is only waiting at present for art historians to take it in hand. That is the aim of this internet site.
… History Rewritten
In early 1997 the publishing firm of La Bibliothèque des Arts in Paris, which belonged in effect to François Daulte, brought out a slim volume of interviews, François Daulte- Entretiens avec Frank Bridel, a hagiographic publication intended to enhance Daulte’s reputation. Though its details the numerous “exploits” of the art historian, connoisseur and expert, the subject of Larionov is not even mentioned once. Apparently this subject was no longer appropriate.
Daulte died in Lausanne (Switzerland) on 18 April 1998, which occasioned a number of accolades in the Geneva press. Shortly afterwards, the scandal of Anne-Marie Rouart’s estate broke (she had died in Paris in December 1993) : twenty-four paintings that had “vanished” from the inventory of one of Manet’s heirs were “discovered” in the vault of François Daulte’s Swiss bank. These works were later restored to the Institut de France in Paris, consistent with the terms of the Rouart will40.
Tout récemment le scandale des œuvres « disparues » allait rebondir faisant venir de nouveau à la lumière du jour le nom de François Daulte, cf. « Le trésor sulfureux des Wildenstein », Le Point, n° 2003, Paris le 3 février 2011, p. 81-82 et Harry Bellet, « La police a saisi des œuvres disparues ou volées à l’Institut Wildenstein », Le Monde du 2 février 2011 et Béatrice Rochebouet « Sur la piste des Manets disparus » in Le Figaro du 10 février 2011, p. 27-28 et Yves Rouart « Le tableau de ma tante dans le coffre des Wildenstein ! » (interview avec) in Point de vue n° 3265, Paris, 16 février 2011, p. 30-32.)).
Faithful to the line that François Daulte initiated, Geneva’s Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, in particular its director Cäsar Menz, who succeeded Claude Lapaire in 1994, took the side of blind, arrogant accusation and refused to answer my open letters of 1995. His method of governance, which the local press described as “arbitrary” and even “feudal,” resulted in his resignation in 2009, as his action was viewed as a “failure” and was “censured” in a “devastating audit”41. The somewhat consoling conclusion is that sooner or later Dame History ends up cleaning house
As for the complaint of Alexandra Tomiline-Larionov’s heirs, yet again it bogged down in complicated legal procedures and was eventually suspended due to the death of the widow’s nephews. Yet, though filed in Paris, it nevertheless had an unexpected repercussion in Moscow: in 1997 a project for a museum show that was to feature a good number of the artist’s works which had “vanished” from his widow’s estate was purely and simply cancelled.