Qatar’s Sheikh Won a Legal Battle Against a London Art Dealer

Qatar's Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani Won a $5 Million Legal Battle Against a London Art Dealer, John Eskenazi.

Dec 14, 2022By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Qatar's sheikh
Charles, the then Prince of Wales speaks to Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani. Photo: Getty Images


Qatar‘s Sheikh comes from a ruling family. Due to the fake artifacts, Sheikh initiated a lawsuit against John Eskenazi. The High Court of London ordered the Asian antiquities expert to pay back $4.99 million. With this price, he also has to pay damages for the sale in 2014 and 2015. This is connected to the seven forged sculptures.


$5 Million Dollars Returned to Qatar’s Sheikh

Qatar's sheihk
Photos: Getty Images, England and Wales High Court


In 2014 and 2015, Qatar’s Sheikh bought seven artefacts from London-based art dealer John Eskenazi. He bought it for US$5 million through his company Qatar Investment and Projects Holding Company. Asian art expert Eskenazi old the artefacts with the understanding they were up to 2,000 years old.


According to court documents, each invoice contained a note saying: “I declare that to the best of my knowledge and belief the item detailed on this invoice is antique and therefore over one hundred years of age”.


John Eskenazi
Photo: Handout


But a High Court ruling last month found that the artefacts sold by John Eskenazi Limited (JEL) to the super-rich Qatar’s Sheikh between 2014 and 2015 were forgeries. “In relation to the objects, the claimants have proved their inauthenticity”, High Court Judge Richard Jacobs said.

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Eskenazi did not conduct fraud, but the court did find there were other instances in which “Mr. Eskenazi had not conducted his business with integrity”. The judge ordered Eskenazi to refund what the sheikh had paid for the fake artworks, plus damages, on November 29.


“The statues are not ancient” – The Archaeologist Anna Bennett

Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani
Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani


A statue of Hindu deity Harihara showed clear evidence that it was not ancient, according to archaeological scientist Anna Bennett. The statue is said to be 1,000 years old, and Qatar’s Sheikh acquired it for about US$2.2 million. Bennett also said there was a high-speed modern machine polisher, used for a statue.


It is also chemically treated with hydrochloric acid in an attempt to artificially age the surface, and to remove the modern tool marks. The Qatar’s sheikh purchased the artworks through QIPCO (Qatar Investment & Projects Development Holding). “While it is a matter of regret to QIPCO that they felt it necessary to take this action against John Eskenazi Limited. They also felt it was important to pursue this case as a matter of principle”.


Qatar's Sheikh
Detail of a statue depicting the god Harihara. Photo: Getty Images


A spokesperson for Eskenazi said: “John Eskenazi and his family have suffered years of anguish and anxiety as a result of this litigation. He is therefore extremely pleased the court dismissed in its entirety the sheikh’s case of fraud.”

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.