The Art of Deception

3 August 2015

As published in CK Momentum Issue 5  (Click here to download)

In a case that put the spotlight on the artistic world, the New South Wales Supreme Court has found the auction house Christie’s liable for misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct under the Trade Practices Act (now called the Australian Consumer Law), as well as being found guilty of deceit. The case involved a painting sold by Christie’s as a work of Albert Tucker. However, it was found to be false approximately 10 years after the sale. Both an art dealer and an adviser were also found partially liable for the loss.

Christie’s actions were said to be “commercially reprehensible and unconscionable in the circumstances” due to suspicions about the painting’s authenticity, that arose soon after the sale, not being communicated to the buyer. This lack of communication led to the 5 year guarantee by Christie’s expiring and a significantly lower value of the work. This only became known when the buyer looked to sell the painting years later.

The case shows the wide application of Australian Consumer Law protections and how industries that may not normally be considered to be subject to the consumer protections can be found liable under the Act.

This bulletin is produced as general information in summary for clients and subscribers and should not be relied upon as a substitute for detailed legal advice or as a basis for formulating business or other decisions. ClarkeKann asserts copyright over the contents of this document. This bulletin is produced by ClarkeKann. It is intended to provide general information in summary form on legal topics, current at the time of publication. The contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular matters. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation. Privacy Policy


…and we’ll email you valuable insights into issues affecting you and your business.

More Insights

Unfair Contract Terms Reform Alert (2022)

Unfair Contract Terms Reform Alert (2022)

There are changes happening! Significant changes are set to shake up the law of Unfair Contract Terms in small business standard form contracts. The changes come into effect on 9 November 2023 and will introduce serious penalties for businesses that use and rely on...

read more