ATG's article on the 'gentleman's agreement' case.

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Art dealer Clovis Whitfield


Clovis Whitfield.

“Certainly in the art trade we are used to accepting a handshake, a telephone call, and we have existed on nods and handshakes for many years, but we do have to understand that the world is changing.

De Pury’s case is a massive achievement. He deserved his reward and I am glad he won. But after a number of abuses of old-fashioned agreements, people now want things in writing.

There are cases when people have been left with nothing because there was no official agreement. We have to embrace the modern world of bureaucracy.”

“After a number of abuses of old-fashioned agreements, people now want things in writing


James Ratcliffe, Art Loss Register


James Ratcliffe.

“While the result [of the de Pury case] may be correct, it is also unfortunate, as the last thing the art market needs is to be encouraged in the belief that there is any sense in doing business without recording it in writing.

How can standards and the reputation of the market improve when there are cases like this occupying the headlines and encouraging people to think they can get away with carrying on as before?

That is why the lesson to be taken away from this case is not that you can get away without a written agreement and still make money.

Instead, no-one should lose sight of the fact that the de Purys have suffered as a result of the failure to record the basis on which they were acting, as they have faced allegations in court… not to mention the time wasted on the case.”

“While the result of the case may be correct, it is also unfortunate