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An elderly French couple has been forced to return a rate mask from Gabon to the art dealer they initially sold it to.

The couple, in their 80s, says they bought the mask at auction for just over R3,000 and the art dealer later sold it at auction for more than R81 million. According to their statements, the art dealer who bought it from them failed “in his obligation to provide pre-contractual information” and committed a breach of consent.

They went to court with the hope that the sale of the mask could be annulled and asked to be given the proceeds made from the auction. But the court in the south of France upheld the terms of the sale and said the couple had kept the mask in an attic and never took the time to get an expert’s opinion before agreeing a price with the dealer.

The court said the art dealer didn’t have any knowledge of African art either, but that he had the mask appreciated before he made them the offer.

The court also said that the couple was careless and only wanted to get rid of the piece of art as part of the contents of a property they wanted to sell.

The face mask was inherited by the husband from his father and the couple showed no interest in the mask when they sold it to the second-hand art dealer.

Image credit: Unilad

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