Al Fayed gets bronzed off by forgeries

The antiques dealer that Al Fayed wants to sue over fake candelabra is seeking to have the claim struck out, reports Roger Pearson

Harrods boss Mohammed Al Fayed is waiting to hear whether he can continue with a High Court claim over four pairs of gilded bronze candelabra that he bought but which turned out to be fakes.

The Court of Appeal is to give judgment on moves by antiques dealer Emanouel Naghi, who Al Fayed is seeking to sue, to have the claim struck out on the basis that the case has been hanging over him for so long it now represents an abuse of the power of the courts.

The claim centres on candelabra which were purchased for about £75,000 a pair in the belief they were antiques. Al Fayed claims that far from being 19th century works of art, the candelabra were in fact forgeries made in Italy in the 1980s. The Italian said to have forged the candelabra has since disappeared and, as such, is unlikely to be available to give evidence if the case go on.

Naghi, who traded as Eman-ouel Antiques until 1994, was arrested by police in 1991 after Al Fayed complained about the purchase, but police did not press charges.

However, Al Fayed has gone ahead with a civil damages claim alleging Naghi was negligent in stating that the candelabra were 19th century pieces.

He claims he realised they were forgeries when he attempted to sell two of the pairs at Harrods and his antique and fine art manager became suspicious about their age. He still owns three of the pairs though a fourth was sold to a buyer in Hong Kong before the row over their origins developed.

Stephen Nathan QC for Naghi argued that the claim against Naghi should be struck out: "My client has had an allegation of fraud hanging over him for six years and this is an abuse of the process of the courts. We are dealing with a case which is stale."