Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mandela show continues amid row !

The courtyard by Nelson Mandela (image courteousy of Belgravia Gallery)
The gallery insists the works are genuine

A London art gallery has refused to end a sale of prints by ex-South African leader Nelson Mandela, despite a long-running legal dispute.

Lawyers for Mr Mandela say he did not sign the works on display. They are taking legal action against Mr Mandela's former lawyer.

But Belgravia Gallery owner Anna Hunter said the prints were signed.

She said the legal case had nothing to do with the gallery and the show, which opened on Sunday, would continue.

"The matter is one between Mr Mandela and his former lawyer and has nothing to do with the gallery," she told the BBC.

The gallery previously planned an exhibition of Mr Mandela's artwork in 2005, but because of the legal furore in South Africa they decided to take the artworks down.

The window by Nelson Mandela (image courteousy of Belgravia Gallery)
The original artwork sold for millions of dollars in 2003

"Four years later it still hasn't been resolved," said Ms Hunter.

"We put them back up on Sunday. There has been an incredible response to them. We are honoured to have Mr Mandela's artworks here."

She insisted the prints were authorised, saying she was present when Mr Mandela, now 90, signed the works.

But Mr Mandela's lawyer Bally Chuene told the Associated Press the pictures were unauthorised reproductions and the gallery was being "opportunistic".

"Mandela did not sign the artworks, it is important for the public to know that are being deceived," he said.

The lawyer said he had written to the gallery last week asking for them to halt the sale - but Ms Hunter said she had received no letter.

Fifteen works are currently on display at the gallery, including lithograph prints and copies of his autobiography Long Walk To Freedom.

The original signed works were sold in 2003 and the proceeds reportedly went to charities associated with Mr Mandela.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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