Elderly couple sue art dealer who bought their African mask for €148 and sold it for €4.1 million 4 months ago

Elderly couple sue art dealer who bought their African mask for €148 and sold it for €4.1 million

The dealer reportedly offered to give the couple €300,000 in compensation after learning about their complaint, but they’re refusing to take it.

An elderly couple who sold an African face mask for €148 later found out that their buyer had sold it for millions just a few months later.

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The unnamed couple from Nîmes, France, were clearing out their home back in 2021 when they discovered the old African mask.

With no real need for it, they decided to pass it on to a local dealer who bought it for just over 100 quid. The dealer, known as Mr. Z, then went on to make millions from the mask.

Mr Z sold the piece of art, which was a traditional Fang mask from Gabon which would’ve been used for weddings, funerals, and other rituals, at an auction in Montpellier for £4.15 million.

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The couple who initially sold the mask had absolutely no idea just how rare the item was and only learnt of how much it was worth when they read about it in the newspaper.

According to ARTnews, the mask was brought to France by the husband’s grandfather who was once a colonial governor in Africa.

The couple are now suing Mr Z accusing him of cheating them.

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The couple argues that Mr Z knew full well what the face mask was worth before buying it from them for 0.00359090909 per cent of the price it was later sold for.

The lawsuit has been ongoing for a few months and the court of appeals ruled that the case appears “to be well-founded in principle”.

They have since frozen the proceeds of the sale.

The face mask is also incredibly rare with court documents reading: “This piece of kaolin-coated cheesewood is therefore exceptional in terms of its rarity, as only a dozen or so other reference specimens are known to exist worldwide, in Western museums and collection.”

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Apparently, the dealer offered to give the couple €300,000 in compensation after learning about their complaint, but they’re refusing to take it.

The case remains open.

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