In Upstate New York, a Lawsuit Over a Famous Painting Now Residing in Dallas

What you see at right is a reproduction of Willliam Adolphe Bouguerau's Notre-Dame des Anges (Our Lady of the Angels), painted in 1889 in France; this version sells here for $15, though, at the moment, it's on sale for $11.99, so act now. It might look especially familiar to locals: Not long ago it hung on the walls of the Dallas Museum of Art, and currently resides in the home of Dallas art dealer Brian Roughton, whose gallery is among Unfair Park's cross-the-street neighbors. Roughton owns the piece and is currently offering it for sale on his own Web site for $4.8 million, though one report says it was recently sold for $5 mil.

But should it be available and if you're considering making the purchase -- and at 108 inches-by-71 inches and 400 pounds, it'll look great over your bed -- be warned: The painting's at the center of a lawsuit involving nuns who were told it was worth a fraction of a fraction of what it's selling for these days. (The dealer at the center of the suit comes a two owners before Roughton, who calls his a "straight legal purchase.") Like most tales involving old masterpieces, this is a long and complicated one -- and it involves allegations of fraudulent appraisals, mysterious e-mails and the alleged ripping off an upstate New York chapel and convent that had hoped to used the proceeds to expand its tiny quarters and only raised enough for a single sign.


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