Art “Sleepers”



Art “Sleepers” are artworks that have been misattributed due to an expert’s oversight and consequently sold for a considerably underestimated price.  When a sleeper is offered at auction, the expert has inadvertently failed to correctly determine the true value of the item he or she is putting up for sale.

In this seminar we will examine the creation of sleepers and the process of attribution and connoisseurship by experts to reveal or awaken a sleeper artwork.  We will also discuss the standard of care required by auction houses and art dealers, contractual liability and remedies that arise in the context of auction sales.

We will be joined by 2 world leading experts in the field of art sleepers.

Image credits: Pieter Brueghel the Younger, “Wedding Dance in the Open Air” (1607–14) (photo by Dominic Brown, © Holburne Museum)



Jan Six

Jan Six is a Dutch art dealer, art historian and owner of Jan Six Fine Art, the Old Masters art dealership based in Amsterdam.  He is a member of the Six family of art collectors – his ancestor Jan Six I (1618-1700) was a close friend of Rembrandt and the subject of Rembrandt´s “Portrait of Jan Six”. Throughout the centuries, the Six family have kept their passion for Rembrandt´s work, preserving paintings, drawings and etchings by the artist in their private collection. In this surrounding, the present Jan grew up and formed his own passion for the artist. Jan studied art history and archaeology in Amsterdam and after graduating worked at Sotheby´s in London and then as Head of the Old Master Painting Department at Sotheby’s, Amsterdam. The Jan Six Fine Art gallery´s extensive research has led to discoveries of paintings by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens and Saenredam, among others.   Aside from running his gallery, Jan has worked extensively with Prof Dr. E. van de Wetering, an expert on Rembrandt, and has been researching the complete oeuvre of Rembrandt for the last ten years, which will result in a new catalogue raisonné of the artist´s work.


Silvia Beltrametti

Dr Silvia Beltrametti lectures in the departments of Arts Administration and Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her main area of research and teaching is art law and includes matters relating to copyright, provenance, the art market and collecting, all areas in which she has also published widely. Silvia also consults on intellectual property matters. In 2020 she published an article in the International Journal of Cultural Property on sleepers in the context of the antiquities trade. Silvia and her husband Jay Krehbiel own auction house Freeman’s | Hindman and collect 18th century Irish Art.



Art “Sleepers”

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