told plaintiff that she intended to include the Offenstadt reference in Christie's sales catalogue for the May 25, 1988 auction and that the Painting could not be sold without the reference. Plaintiff had no objection to Sartori's communicating with Offenstadt.
On March 16, 1988, Sartori wrote to Offenstadt at Fondation Wildenstein, seeking confirmation that the Painting would appear in the catalogue raisonne. Christie's included a color transparency of the Painting and suggested that Offenstadt arrange a viewing. Instead of traveling to New York to examine the Painting himself, Offenstadt asked Wildenstein to look at it. Wildenstein is a renowned expert on nineteenth century art, including the works of Beraud, and had seen approximately 200 paintings by Beraud other than the Painting owned by plaintiff. Wildenstein agreed to view the painting during an April 1988 trip to New York, and asked Sartori to send the Painting to Wildenstein & Company, his gallery in New York. Sartori obliged, and Wildenstein examined the Painting.
During his examination, Wildenstein scrutinized the Painting for some twenty minutes, looking at both the front and the back and observing the Painting from various distances. According to his deposition testimony, Wildenstein observed that the canvas had been relined and that the figures in the Painting were more blurred than those of other Berauds he had seen. As a result, he concluded that the Painting was either "skinned," meaning that it had suffered the removal of paint through overcleaning, or a copy. See Crupi Aff., Exh. B, Deposition of Daniel Wildenstein, Oct. 9, 1990, at 41, 59-60 (hereinafter "Wildenstein Dep.").
On May 5, 1988, Offenstadt informed Sartori by telex that the Painting would not be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonne. An employee of Wildenstein & Company, Joseph Baillio, also told Sartori that Wildenstein did not like the Painting and did not believe it was genuine. See Crupi Aff., Exh. E, Deposition of Polly J. Sartori, Oct. 26, 1989, at 60 (hereinafter "Sartori Dep."). Sartori decided to withdraw the Painting from the May 25, 1988 auction.
Although Sartori had removed the Painting from the May auction, she believed that it was genuine. Sartori wrote to the Paris-based art dealer Bernheim-Jeune et Cie, whose label was affixed to the back of the Painting, seeking confirmation of its authenticity. Bernheim-Jeune provided documents showing that it had purchased the Painting directly from Beraud in 1907. Sartori forwarded the documents to Fondation Wildenstein along with a letter dated June 10, 1988, and asked that Wildenstein reevaluate his opinion with respect to the Painting's authenticity.
By letter dated June 20, 1988, Fondation Wildenstein informed Sartori that Wildenstein had received the Bernheim-Jeune documents and revised his opinion as to the genuineness of the Painting. The letter stated that the Painting would be listed in the forthcoming catalogue raisonne as an authentic Beraud, but would bear a notation that the Painting had been damaged by "an abusive restoration and cleaning." The letter further stated that the notation as to condition should be included in Christie's sales catalogue.
After receiving the June 20, 1988 letter, Sartori sent the Painting to the Julius Lowy Frame Restoring Company (hereinafter "Lowy"), an expert in art restoration, for an opinion as to its condition. Lowy examined the Painting under natural and ultraviolet light, and issued the following report:
Original canvas has been relined and attached to another canvas with an animal glue wheatpaste adhesive. This lining is in stable condition. There is some abrasion along the bottom edge of the painting and in the darker more thinly painted areas such as around the central figure and on some of the building moldings. Some of the abrasion has been covered with a glaze by a previous restorer. There is a layer of discolored varnish and dirt trapped underneath.