Attribution error at Sotheby's and Bonhams for a $3,000 pair of lamps to René PROU

On June 15th 1990, famous auction house SOTHEBY’S listed a pair of lamps estimated at $3,000 incorrectly attributed to the famous designer René Prou. We fixed this cold case!


At DOCANTIC, we investigate the proper identification of 20th Century furniture, and provide accurate documentation. Here’s an example from our case files!


SOTHEBY'S  got pulled over by DOCANTIC PATROL for Identity theft violation: wrong artist!


On June 15th 1990, SOTHEBY’S listed a pair of lamps estimated at $3,000, but incorrectly attributed them to the famous designer René Prou. Surprisingly, the same design was listed and also incorrectly attributed to René Prou 19 years later by BONHAMS auction house. A René Prou conspiracy seems to be taking place!

DOCANTIC PATROL’s keen detectives launched an investigation to set the record straight. They didn’t have to look far, as expert witness TAJAN, redeemed themselves by properly attributing the lamps to Genet & Michon in their June 12th, 2007 listing. They also provided catalogue documentation from "Meubles & Décors 1945" July and August editions. Bravo, TAJAN!






TAJAN sold the lamps for 18,500 €, which turns out to be 2 times higher than their original estimation as well as 4 times higher than the final selling price of the exact same design in BONHAMS incorrectly attributed listing! As SOTHEBY’S listing did not sell, they and BONHAMS missed out on a golden opportunity to raise bidding prices when they skipped doing their homework.

Holding René Prou hostage as the incorrect designer of the lamps hurt both auction houses! BONHAMS in particular should be sentenced to two counts of recklessness as they 1. Gave the wrong artist in their listing, and 2. Even more embarrassingly, apparently didn’t look at the auction history of the design they were trying to sell. If they had, they would of course seen TAJAN’S 2007 listing containing the correct artist’s name, verified by catalogue documentation, and the high price fetched at auction.

Why BONHAMS didn’t use this information in their listing two years later is truly a mystery! To quote the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, “If all these people are not implicated in the crime, then why have they all told me… stupid and often unnecessary lies?”

DOCANTIC patrols the market to make sure that 20th Century furniture and works of art receive proper attribution and accurate documentation, so that collectors may sell and/or purchase works at the correct price. To protect and to serve the art community, that's out job!



How do we classify our files? Find out here.


Book ’em! The auction house or the art dealer provided little or no corroborating evidence in the form of documentation for this item.


Time Off!  The expert made a significant mistake on this item. His attributed period came in way off. No early parole!


Missing persons alert! The auction house or the art dealer failed to uncover and identify the artist for this item.


Identity theft! They’re guilty of the worst crime of all: mislabeling the artist with another alias. And Picasso painted the Mona Lisa, right?!






The obsessive, nitpicky and no-holds-barred investigative team at DOCANTIC maintains an unparalleled database of original documentation for 20th Century, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco & Design furniture and works of art.

At DOCANTIC we believe that designers deserve proper identification for each work they have created, and that any art lover should confidently pay the right price for his or her purchase. We see the art world filled with both talented artists and con artist and, therefore, also riddled with innumerable attribution errors and outrageous pricing mistakes. By supplying authentic period photographs, DOCANTIC catches and apprehends the undervaluation (or overvaluation) of furniture and works of art. That’s our mission. We stop errors dead in their tracks. We serve and protect 20th Century furniture’s reputation.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, DOCANTIC sets the bar for the identification of 20th Century furniture, and shares with every art lover the information that has been kept under wraps by a handful of experts for far too long!