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Gianni Versace estate returns stolen painting

famersA family’s stolen work of art that was nearly sold by the Gianni Versace estate has been returned to its rightful owners without lawyers or legal battles, it was announced.  Major George Maule is the subject of a painting by Johann Zofanny dating back to the time of George III.  It was actually up for bidding at a Sotheby’s auction, but was withdrawn when one of the Major’s descendants recognized it through a newspaper article.

The painting was part of the art collection of Gianni Versace and was valued at about £60,000.  The designer did not know it was a stolen piece when he purchased it for his collection.  The Versace family was very cooperative once it was proved that it belonged to heirs of the late Major-General John Sheffield, who had the artwork stolen from above his mantelpiece.

When the Versaces were provided evidence that the painting was a treasured family heirloom, they made arrangements to settle everything out of court and the family is once again in possession of the piece.

Quite often, when situations like this arise within the art world there can be lengthy court battles that drag on for years over rightful ownership of the property and what the unsuspecting collector is entitled to be paid in the way of recovery.

In this instance, both parties decided that such wrangling was unwarranted and would only serve to enrich attorneys.  They decided that, instead of battling lawsuits, they would sit down and attempt to arrange an amicable solution.

While no one is giving details of what that amicable solution turned out to be, it is reported that both parties are pleased with the way things were settled.

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