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Dealer Sued by State Farm for "Losing" Toulouse-Latrec Lithograph

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Artistide Bruant Dans
Son Cabaret,” (1893) now missing.

State Farm Insurance is suing dealer Alfred DeSimone for “losing” one of Henry Toulouse-Lautrec’s most recognizable images.  “Artistide Bruant Dans Cabaret” is part of a three poster series created in 1893 to advertise the comedian Artistide Bruant.  Now the lithograph is MIA.

Thomas Rosensteel, an art investor, gave the piece to DeSimone to sell and store.  In July 2010, DeSimone claimed he misplaced the piece– probably by putting it in a mailing tube and accidentally throwing it out.

Rostensteel filed a claim with his insurance company, and State Farm paid $103,000 for his loses.  Now, State Farm is suing DeSimone to recoup the money.

Thomas Brebner, an attorney for State Farm, commented: “It was kind of mysterious disappearance.  (DeSimone) was a broker and he was basically going to sell it.  He was to hold onto it…. The credibility (of DeSimone’s story) is not for me to assess.  But obviously it’s gone and Mr. DeSimone is responsible for this.”

There is heavy suspicion that DeSimone may not have lost the Toulouse-Latrec, as he claims, but sold it.  According to an investigation by The Daily Herald, a local newspaper based in the Chicago suburbs, DeSimone has been underwater financially for many years.  Court records show default judgments against DeSimone for $3,824 in 2009 and $2,805 in 2011.  His home was under foreclosure at the time that the lithograph disappeared in 2010.

State Farm and DeSimone head to court in April.

Sources: Harry Hitzeman, “Lawsuit: St. Charles Art Dealer Lost $103,000 French Lithograph,” The Daily Herald, February 8, 2013.