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“Lost” painting not proven to be part of estate

11 December 2014

The children of Australian artist Dr John Olsen have failed in their attempt in the Supreme Court of New South Wales to block the sale of a painting once belonging to their late mother.

Tim and Louise Olsen, as the executors of their mother Valerie's estate argued that Sotheby's Australia had no right to sell the painting "The Mother" by their father, John Olsen as the artist had given the painting to his wife as a gift in 1964. The Olsen's case claimed that because Sotheby's refused to disclose the provenance of the painting and because it had "disappeared" in uncertain circumstances with no record of its whereabouts for nearly 50 years that the painting remained the property of Valerie Olsen's estate.

Justice Stevenson accepted that the inscription on the back of the painting indicated that "The Mother" had been given to Mrs Olsen but that it did not prove that she remained the owner. Justice Stevenson also noted that it appeared that no attempts were made by the Olsen family to recover the painting in the 47 years that it had been missing. The Court ruled that Tim and Louise Olsen could not establish a prima facie case to issue an injunction against the sale but that they would be able to renew their application if new evidence could be presented to the Court.

For more information please contact:

Chris Herrald | Associate
Mullins Lawyers
t +61 7 3224 0256
f +61 7 3224 0333

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