British Court Orders London Dealer to Pay $144,000 in Case Over Missing Bosco Sodi Work

A UK judge has ordered the London-based art dealer Esperanza Koren to pay $144,000 in a case centered around an artwork by the Mexican artist Bosco Sodi that she received as a loan but failed to return, according to a story in the Guardian.

The work, Untitled in red 2011, was part of a group of works Koren had been given by Barcelona’s Principal Gallery; she had planned to exhibit and sell them in 2012. According to Central London county court judge Alan Saggerson, the partnership was “unsuccessful” and Koren was asked to return the tranche of unsold works. 

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She did, with the exception of an eight-foot-wide Sodi abstraction, which wasn’t included in the shipment. 

Just a year later, an employee at Principal described only as Carlos specifically asked for Sodi’s Untitled in red via a WhatsApp message, stating that he had found a buyer in Miami willing to pay nearly $130,000 for the work. 

“The large red Bosco is missing,” the message read. “Do you know where it is?”

Instead of returning the work, Koren offered to match the six-figure sale price. However, according to Principal’s attornies, no money has changed hands in the 10 years since Koren offered to buy the work, and the work itself is still in the wind.

When asked by the court where the painting was, Koren replied, “At the moment, I don’t know.”

When delivering the verdict, Saggerson said, “I do find it extraordinary that the defendant [has] no recollection whatsoever of the whereabouts of the painting, where it ended up and with whom” before inferring that Koren used the work “as security for other debts.”  

Koren’s inability to remember where the work is being held is not the only thing Saggerson found extraordinary about the case. When describing the work, the judge said, “It would seem to have the appearance of a burnt digestive biscuit. This is of value to some in some quarters of the world.”

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