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Auction House Assailed Over Henri Painting

CHICAGO (CN) - An Illinois man wants more than his money back from the auction house he claims in court was supposed to have sold him a Robert Henri oil painting and Chinese scrolls.

Cameel Halim, of Winnetka, says Ahlers & Ogletree invited him to participate in an auction this past June at its showroom in Atlanta.

After reviewing the online auction catalog, Halim communicated interest in two items and received condition reports on those items a few days before the June 24 auction, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Halim says he successfully bid, using the telephone, on both items, "Emperor Qianlong Calligraphy Couplet on Pink Silk," written by Chinese Emperor Ch'ien-Lung in 1757, and a 1918 painting called "Spanish Girl With Flowers," by the artist Robert Henri.

The hammer price for the scrolls was $13,000, according to the complaint, but Halim estimates that they would be worth "at least $100,000" if they arrived as represented.

Halim allegedly won the Henri painting for $9,000 and says "its value would be at least $368,000."

After the gallery charged Halim's American Express Card $26,620 for the two items, including the 21 percent "buyer's premium," it shipped the items to Halim's house, according to the complaint.

The two purchases did not arrive "as Ahlers & Ogletree had represented to him in the catalog descriptions," or in previous email conversations, the complaint states.

Halim says the first "is not comprised of two imperial scrolls," and the second "is not a painting by Robert Henri."

Halim wants $468,000 for breach of warranty. He is represented by Alan Didesch of Wilmette, Ill.

Ahlers & Ogletree did not respond to a request for comment.

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