Tretchikoff's granddaughter: Kebble's ‘Lost Orchid’ was never painted by my grandfather

2009-05-19 00:00

“I HAVE no doubt whatsoever. The Lost Orchid sold on the Kebble auction for nearly R3 million was never painted by my grandfather.”

These were the words of Natasha Mercorio of Cape Town, granddaughter of the painter Vladimir Tretchikoff and head of the Tretchikoff Foundation. She has done intensive research on her grandfather’s work.

She says she has not yet personally scrutinised the auctioned painting, but has seen good-quality photographs of it.

“Firstly, I can state unequivocally, that that is not my grandfather’s signature on the painting. Definitely not. My grandfather never signed his works that way.

“Secondly, I know that my grandfather never did a painting and then painted an exact copy of it. He simply never did that.

“He did repeat elements of one painting in others, like chrysanthemums. But he never made two versions of the same painting. So as far as I am concerned, no paintbrush of my grandfather’s ever came near the painting that has just been auctioned.”

She enjoys strong support from art expert Stephan Welz.

“First, I know that Tretchi never made more than one version of the same painting,” he said.

“Secondly, anyone with even a smattering of knowledge about art would have known there was something very wrong when the painting concerned was sold for a meagre R12 000 at a Westgate Walding auction in Sandton in 2003. Even at the time before Tretchi’s death, his original works were fetching R100 000 and more.

“Thirdly, the auctioned painting was simply too precise a copy of the original. No painter can paint the same painting twice and make it almost 100% the same. It is simply humanly impossble.”

Westgate Walding director Christopher Martin said that, when the painting went under the hammer in 2003, the auctioneer was aware of the fact that “more than one version” of the Lost Orchid had been made.

“That is why we auctioned it as an original Tretchikoff,” Martin said.

— Own Correspondent.

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