Photo: Sotheby's

Lancelot William Thwaytes inherited an old painting from his cousin. The painting titled "The Cardsharps" was considered to be painted by a student of the great Italian master Caravaggio.
His cousin's family had bought the painting for a modest amount in 1962. Thwaytes sold the painting more than forty years later for £42,000, the equivalent of $60 000.

It was only when one of the two new owners of the painting, Orietta Adam cleaned the painting, the then 97-year-old Denis Mahon, came forward and explained that this was a genuine masterpiece of one of the world's most famous Baroque painters - Caravaggio. Mahon dated the painting to 1595. He also explained that the value, in round figures amounted to almost 15 million dollars after his recent attribution of the work.

At that time ,Mahon was considered to be one of the world's leading experts on Italian paintings from the Baroque style and then in Synnnerhet Caravaggio, despite or perhaps because of his advanced age. Mahon, however, died shortly later at the age of 100, while the rest of the world had disputed the authenticity of the painting.

Lancelot William Thwaytes tried to sue Sotheby's for inadequate cataloging, hesitant expertise and bad advice. Although Sotheby's long has meant that they have not thought that the painting is genuine, the outcome of the legal dispute has not been given, since many experts around the world question the painting's authenticity.

Last week Sotheby's were not made to pay Thwaytes compensation.

Sotheby's has always defended its expertise by claiming that the painting quality "was not high enough that it might be by Caravaggio". The judge at the London High Court found that Sotheby's had the right to rely on the expertise of its specialists, who were well qualified and who reviewed the painting properly.

After the verdict Sotheby's spokesman expressed satisfaction that Sotheby's expertise is of the highest standard.