Painter's son brushes off report that classic up for auction is fake

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 April, 2004, 12:00am

The son of famous Chinese watercolour painter Fu Baoshi has denied news reports claiming that a painting by his late father - to be auctioned next Monday - is a fake.

Fu Ershi, wrote a letter addressed to auction house Sotheby's in Hong Kong and the present owner of the painting in which he denied having said that the artwork in question, Seven Sages, was not authentic.

Mr Fu explained that a reporter from a mainland newspaper, the Nanjing Morning Post, had approached him with a scanned copy of the painting and asked for comments. Mr Fu told the reporter that he could not judge if it was an authentic copy from a scanned image.

The newspaper in turn ran the report under the headline 'Fu questioned authenticity of Sotheby's auction item'.

The report, which also claimed the listed owner of the painting did not exist, was widely picked up by newspapers on the mainland and in Hong Kong.

But Mr Fu later confirmed that the Water Pine and Stone Retreat, a studio owned by an anonymous Hong Kong collector had in its possession Seven Sages, which was painted by his father in the 1940s in Sichuan province. The painting, on show at the Four Seasons Hotel in Shanghai until April 24, is expected to fetch from HK$3.5 million to HK$5 million.

Cheung Chiu-kwan, senior director of Sotheby's China and Southeast Asia paintings department said the confusion would not affect the auction price.

'Collectors who have knowledge of Chinese paintings, especially those who study Fu's works, would be able to conclude for themselves even before the clarification that the piece is original,' he said.

He added that the auction house would reserve the right to claim legal liabilities from the Nanjing Morning Post.

Seven Sages, as well as another piece painted by Fu, will be auctioned in Hong Kong with 195 other Chinese paintings.