Report Reveals Legal Dispute Over Giacometti Sketches

The Grisons Art Museum in Chur, Switzerland, where the work is, for now, sequestered.COURTESY GRISONS ART MUSEUM

The Grisons Art Museum in Chur, Switzerland, where the work is, for now, sequestered.


Reuters reports that a legal battle is quietly raging over the ownership of 16 sketches by the late Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, as well as more than 100 photographs of the renowned sculptor. The works have been embargoed in a Swiss museum for the past two years as the fight has gone on. At issue is who is the rightful owner of the works. The case was brought forward by the Paris-based Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation, which says that the works in question were purloined years ago.

Included in this collection are photographs taken by Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Doisneau, among others. The collection’s first and only exhibition was in 2011. In 2014 the foundation later lodged its formal complaint, alleging, according to court documents, that the work had been “fraudulently stolen” decades ago. An appeal two months ago to have the collection exhibited was denied.

The details of the war are all a little bit tricky to discern, not least because court documents redact Giacometti’s name, but through interviews Reuters has determined more information about the affair, which Swiss experts are apparently referring to as a “prosecution against unknown persons” by officials in France. Read the whole, rather baroque story here.

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