Madonna and Child (1485), which is attributed to the studio of Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli and is said to be worth at least $10 million, first came to the art world’s attention in 2007 when it was to be included in an exhibition at the now-defunct Salander-O’Reilly Galleries in New York’s Upper East Side neighborhood. But days before the show was to open, federal marshals raided the gallery as part of an investigation of fraud into the gallery’s owner, Larry Salander, who had recently filed for bankruptcy.
It took seven years before two New York judges ruled in 2014 in bankruptcy court that the Botticelli painting belonged to an entity named Kraken Investments, which had reportedly loaned the work to the gallery for an exhibition (as opposed to being gallery inventory, meaning it would be an asset to help pay off Salander’s creditors). That year, Ronald Fuhrer, an advisor to Kraken, told Artnet News that he had retrieved the painting for Kraken.
But now a new cache of leaked documents, obtained by the European Investigative Collaborations network and shared with the Guardian’s Observer vertical, gives new insight into who was behind Kraken Investments. The documents, which relate to another trust company named La Hougue, say that Kraken’s owners are John Dick II and Tanya Dick-Stock, the children of Canadian businessman John Dick, who has lived on the island of Jersey since the 1980s.
Dick-Stock has said that she was unaware that her name was being used in relation to Kraken and has since sued her father over alleged fraud relating to the family trust. “Tanya feels that her identity has been stolen and used for nefarious purposes,” a spokesman for Dick-Stock told the Guardian. “The painting was acquired without her knowledge or consent.”
The spokesperson added, “No we don’t know what happened to it or who owns the painting, but we intend to commit resource and energy to finding out.”