BACKGROUND: In a December, 1990, First Person account, Sarah White told of her efforts to reclaim "Portrait of Sheila Pickering," a painting of her mother by French artist Balthus. Painted in 1935, the portrait disappeared. Its whereabouts were unknown until White was alerted to its pending sale in an auction. White's mother died in 1978.
UPDATE: White's lawyers initially succeeded in delaying the sale. But on April 14, the portrait was sold for 1 million francs (about $200,000) to an unidentified French investor. Auctioneers had hoped for 2.5 million francs. "I think . . . they were in a great hurry to sell--in case I could win the case," White said in a phone interview from her home in Paris.
WHAT'S NEXT: White's attorneys are researching whether to sue for damages and are seeking to identify the new owner. Because the buyer is French, White adds, "at least I may yet one day be able to see it. . . ."
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