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Friday, Jun 02, 2023

Vitasoy heiress sues prominent Hong Kong art dealer over Banksy painting

Vitasoy heiress sues prominent Hong Kong art dealer over Banksy painting

High Court writ alleges that gallery owner Pearl Lam obtained £500,000 from plaintiff Karen Lo by falsely representing that she had bought Banksy’s Show Me The Monet.
A prominent gallery owner is facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit for allegedly duping an heiress of Hong Kong drinks giant Vitasoy International into paying her for a painting by British street artist Banksy that was never delivered.

A High Court writ filed on Tuesday alleges that art dealer Pearl Ling Meng-chu, also known as Pearl Lam, obtained £500,000 (US$613,000) from plaintiff Karen Lo Ki-yan by falsely representing that she had bought Banksy’s Show Me The Monet on the latter’s behalf.

Lo is a granddaughter of the late Lo Kwee-seong, who founded beverage giant Vitasoy back in 1940.

The writ prepared by the Lee Law solicitor firm contends that Lam, daughter of the late Hong Kong tycoon Lim Por-yen, had knowingly made false and negligent representations to Lo that she had acquired the painting “with the predominant motive to injure the plaintiff”.

Lam is separately accused of owing a HK$5 million loan to Lo.

Lo is seeking damages against Lam for “deceit”, together with the return of the £500,000 and the outstanding loan. A hearing has yet to be scheduled, according to the judiciary’s website.

Banksy’s 2005 painting is a modern take on Claude Monet’s impressionist classic The Water-Lily Pond. It depicts a lily pond resembling the one shown in Monet’s masterpiece, but with discarded shopping trolleys and a traffic cone floating in the water beneath a Japanese-style bridge.

It fetched nearly £7.6 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London in October 2020, which was then the second highest price paid for a work by the secretive street artist whose real name and identity have never been confirmed.

Reuters news agency quoted Lam’s office as saying it had already offered a full refund to the claimant and would “look forward to resolving this matter promptly”.

Lam’s gallery is a participant of Art Basel Hong Kong, the city’s largest contemporary art fair, which was held for the first time since 2019.

Lo’s grandfather created the first ready-to-drink soy milk to provide Hongkongers an affordable and healthy alternative to dairy milk. These days, Hong Kong-listed Vitasoy’s products range from ice lemon tea to fruit juices, and they can be found in 40 countries.
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