Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"It's a mess"

From the Seattle Times:

"Former Seattle art dealer Kurt Lidtke, who was convicted of stealing artworks and still owes victims more than $400,000, left a tangle of deception in his wake that may never fully be unraveled. The scale and duration of his misdeeds are unprecedented in the Northwest art trade and have rattled a community accustomed to doing business on trust and a handshake. Lidtke is set to be sentenced today in King County Superior Court, facing up to 43 months in prison for selling consigned artworks without paying the owners .... He was charged last year with 20 counts of theft, including failure to pay state sales tax, and he pleaded guilty to nine counts."

The article asks, "So where does that leave Lidtke's victims?" and goes on to correctly point out that "even when artworks are located, ... it may not be easy to recover them. That's because if the original owners authorized Lidtke to sell the works for them on consignment, the buyer can claim legal ownership. Then it becomes a collection problem [against Lidtke] for the original owner."