More paintings found as rogue gallery owner goes missing

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More paintings found as rogue gallery owner goes missing

A total of 50 missing works by 10 Australian artists provided to Koenig were identified by Alana Kushnir, a lawyer specializing in art law who took on the case against the former gallery owner pro bono. These are all paintings that artists say they were not paid for and never returned.

Since this masthead first reported on the case of Koenig and the missing works of art last December, 23 of the missing works have been found. This is mostly due to the good conscience of collectors like Westcott who were horrified to learn that none of the money they paid Koenig for the artworks went to the artists.

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A Melbourne collector, who asked not to be named, said he saw two paintings he bought from Koenig among a gallery of missing works published by The age and The Sydney Morning Herald. He said he was also shocked to learn that it is common for gallery owners to take a 50 percent commission on the paintings they sell.

“I don’t want something on my wall at home that an artist hasn’t been paid for,” said the collector. His solution was to buy additional work directly from the artists so that they received the entire sale proceeds to make up for what they were owed by Koenig.

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In other cases, the artists were simply happy to know their work was safe and admired. Birchall says Westcott offered to pay him for the painting she bought from Koenig, but he refused. “The offer was beautiful, but I felt a little uncomfortable. She doesn’t have to pay for it twice.”

When Andrew and Nicola Forrest read that Koenig had not paid Sydney artist Lara Merrett for two works hanging in the family’s company headquarters in Perth, they stepped in to make sure the artist was not left out.

Other collectors follow Koenig through the courts.

Victoria Police contacted Koenig by phone last week and issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to answer a summons in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. His last known address was an apartment in Richmond.

The court issued two default orders totaling $11,717 against Koenig requested by collectors who purchased works by Texas-based artist Jon Joanis but never received from Koenig.

Separately, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered Koenig to pay the money he owed to Harry Mcalpine, a New Zealand artist in Melbourne.

Patrick Keyser, a Melbourne lawyer briefed by Simchowitz, says the LA dealer is determined to pursue Koenig for the $52,000 he says he owes him as of 2017, plus five years’ interest.

The final twist for Westcott came when she discovered that one of her Petra Cortright prints could not be authenticated. This meant that a $US15,000 piece of art was now worthless. To correct, Simchowitz’s Australian agent traveling from Sydney to Melbourne this week with a new Cortright print.

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