Art dealer Simonis & Buunk punished for unprofessional behavior

Simonis & Buunk from Ede, the largest art dealer in the Netherlands with more than twenty employees, has been punished for unprofessional behavior by the Royal Association of Ancient Art Dealers (KVHOK). The art trade has been suspended for six months.

According to the disciplinary committee of the KVHOK, the so-called ‘arbitration tribunal’, Simonis & Buunk acted contrary to the rules of conduct of the association, to which 63 of the most important art dealers in the Netherlands are affiliated. Director Frank Buunk has not only seriously damaged the interests of one of his clients, but also, through the publicity about the case in question, the public’s confidence in the other members of the association.

In December, the disciplinary committee of the trade association for appraisers, the Federation TMV, already suspended Buunk for the same facts. Buunk has appealed against that measure.

Also read: Can the appraiser of a painting also be an intended buyer?

The disciplinary proceedings at the two branch organizations are about an issue that was extensively in the news. First in the SBS program Undercover, and later in NRC. An art lover, the sports journalist Herbert Dijkstra, filed complaints about Simonis & Buunk. Dijkstra had discovered that the art dealer had made a bid at an auction site for a valuable painting by the Groninger Ploeg painter Jan Altink, the day after Dijkstra had submitted a valuation request for the painting to the art dealer.

Valued too low

Just like TMV before, the disciplinary committee of the KVHOK assessed that there was an illegal conflict of interest in which the integrity of Simonis & Buunk is under discussion. Moreover, the art dealers did not carry out the appraisal properly: Buunk told Dijkstra that Altink’s painting was worth only 10,000 to 15,000 euros. He himself offered 27,000 euros on the painting and in a lawsuit filed by Buunk about the painting, Simonis & Buunk, specialist in Jan Altink paintings, presented valuations by certified appraisers showing that the canvas is worth at least 80,000 euros.

Willem van der Meer de Walcheren, Dijkstra’s lawyer, says he is not surprised by the ruling. “Two independent disciplinary committees have condemned Buunk’s behavior in no uncertain terms.” His client will hold Buunk liable for the damage suffered.

Simonis & Buunk’s lawyer, Dick Roesink, says that his client is also going to court. The way in which the decision was reached and the competence of the disciplinary committee of the KVHOK, according to the lawyer, “is no good”.