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Elizabeth Taylor painting is a Frans Hals, her Modigliani in doubt

October 4, 2011 |  2:30 pm

Frans no border y
Art collecting is always something of a gamble, even if your father happens to be an art dealer. That's one lesson to emerge from a closer look at the art in Elizabeth Taylor's estate, which Christie's is auctioning off in several sales starting in December.

She was not a voracious collector of art--that appetite would be focused on jewelry. But her father was art dealer Francis Lenn Taylor, who worked in New York and London before setting up shop in the Beverly Hills Hotel, and he often helped her to acquire works.

The good news: An Old Masters painting from her estate of an intense-looking, bearded man that was thought to be "school of" Frans Hals has been authenticated as the handiwork of the master himself. As reported in the full L.A. Times story,  Christie's Old Masters team led by Ben Hall and the esteemed scholar Pieter Biesboer, longtime head of the Frans Hals museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands, back the re-attribution.

The bad news: A Modigliani painting or lookalike that hung in her Bel-Air living room not far from her Hals has not been authenticated. When asked about the painting (visible lower right in this photograph of Taylor's home by Firooz Zahedi in Architectural Digest) Christie's Americas head Marc Porter said it was not appearing in a Christie's sale.

"There is a great controversy in the Modigliani authentication world because Restellini and Wildenstein are supposed to be producing new catalogue raisonné."

"So many collectors of her generation have bought Modiglianis that in this time period can't be authenticated," he added. "There are dozens of Modiglianis waiting to be established."


Christie's says work from Elizabeth Taylor estate is a Frans Hals

Liz Taylor will dazzle one last time

--Jori Finkel

Image: Frans Hals (Antwerp 1581/5-1666 Haarlem), "Portrait of a man, half-length," monogram ‘FH' (center right), oil on canvas. Estimated at $700,000 to $1 million when it appears in Christie's Old Masters sale in January. Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.