Blog by Reed V. Horth for robinrile.com
A good story…. A few years ago, we were approached by a family in the UK who had consigned seven Salvador Dali sculptures to a gallery owner in Sarasota. The owner was a 90 year old veteran who had invested a great deal of money in these works as a sort of retirement savings. His hopes were to sell the sculptures and live out his twilight years in a measure of comfort with the proceeds.
After months of not receiving a straight answer from the gallery owner about the whereabouts of their sculptures, the family sought me out to see if I might be able to help them recover their property. Through a process of discovery, it turns out that the gallery owner had sold five of the seven sculptures and pocketed the money to fund his lavish lifestyle. Further, the gallery owner fraudulently kept insisting that the sculptures were in the gallery just where they had been all along. Information was turned over to the proper authorities and the gallery owner was arrested, convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for stealing not only this gentleman’s works, but the art from several victims. While punitive justice was served in this instance, the sentence did not help the 90 year old man become whole again and replace his retirement savings.
So we went to work… As noted, this gentleman had 5 of 7 works stolen by this crooked gallery owner. This left two sculptures which remained unsold. After a lengthy process of recovery of both the sculptures and the certification of authenticity from the crooked gallery owner, the works were returned to the rightful owner. He then enlisted us to assist with the sale of these works to recoup some of his untold losses at the hands of this now-convicted thief. Thankfully, we have now placed one of the two works, “Dragon Swan Elephant” with a new owner who will be able to treasure the sculpture for generations to come. While this small measure may not make the original owner completely whole, it may allow him some measure of peace.
Being born in the early 1920’s, our Greatest Generation saw the Great Depression, read F. Scott Fitzgerald when it was still fresh in the mind, witnessed the bombing of London and Dresden, defeated the Nazis and the Japanese, saw the rise and the USSR and felt the isolation of the Cold War, saw the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and the rise of James Bond, as well as the peaceniks and the Beatles. He co-existed in a society which discovered DNA, nuclear physics, visited space, invented the microchip which gave rise to computers, cell phones and pacemakers. Further, metaphorically he was able to live side-by-side with Dali himself, as the world was only starting to discover the potential reach of his thoughts and poignancy of his vision.
History is much larger than the crookedness of a weak-willed narcissist.
We remain diligently working on selling the second work in this venerable collection, “Terpsichore: Muse of the Dance” and hope to find a suitable location for it soon. While only a pinprick on the fabric of time and indeed the legacy of both Salvador Dali and this family, our hope is that this episode proves the power of Art to transcend time. Art provided a wonderful catharsis and respite for decades in this family, and now can again. Art has existed for thousands of years as a tangible remembrance of mental, spiritual and emotional connections we have, both in its creation and its admiration… But, to paraphrase Patek Philippe, we merely are stewards of Art till the next generation.
Dali is world-renowned for his references to the fleeting nature, and tenuous grasp we have on, time. Perhaps in this instance… that makes perfect sense.
To see more about this case and related cases: