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Goulandris Affair: Who sold the Art and Why?

Greek billionaire shipping magnate, Basil Goulandris died in 1994. His wife died in 2000. The couple owned a large billion-dollar worthy collection of art that was kept in their Alpine chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland. Bloomberg News reports that one of Goulandris’ heirs, Aspasia Zaimis, is seeking to recover parts of the Goulandris collection that were sold in 1985, which at one time contained works by Picasso, Monet, Degas and Cezanne.  Although the sale took place when both Mr. and Mrs. Goulandris were still alive, claimant has been quoted as saying “I believe with all my heart that the paintings were part of my inheritance.” Zaimis is a legatee under Elisa Goulandris’s will. Another beneficiary of the same will is the Elisa Goulandris Foundation, now under an investigation by the Swiss authorities.

The account of the allegations reads like fiction: a Greek heiress, masterworks sold to a Panamanian company, a cyphered will, an art historian/executor of the will suspect of falsifying titles of ownership, Swiss privacy laws, a death on a yacht, etc.

Claimant is represented by Ron Soffer of Soffer Avocats in Paris. One of the defendants is represented by Jean- Christophe Diserens of Etude Villa Olivier in Lausanne.

To learn more details about the Goulandris mystery, read “Greek Heiress Suis After Chalet’s Picassos, Monets Vanish.”

Sources: Bloomberg News; The Independent.
Image: Vincent Van Gogh’s “Still Life: Coffee Pot” from Basil and Elise Goulandris collection.