Bonhams accused over Islamic 'fake'

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The Independent Online

A millionaire Muslim businessman has accused Britain's oldest auctioneers of misleading him into buying an "astonishing" Islamic artefact for nearly £250,000.

Yousuf Bhailok, a property developer in Lancashire, claims Bonhams auction house mistakenly stated that an Islamic tapestry (pictured) was a rare, sacred 200-year-old curtain that once covered the door to the Kaaba in Mecca - the holiest shrine in Islam.

He successfully bid £240,000 for the artefact by telephone in April. But he became suspicious because it was in excellent condition and he realised that several other ostensibly rare curtains had recently appeared at auction in London. After flying in a world authority on the Kaaba curtains to examine the item, he told Bonhams he believes the curtain is a copy and is refusing to pay the bill for £284,000, which includes tax, storage costs and fees.

The auctioneers insist the item was accurately described in its catalogue, and have warned they make take legal action against Mr Bhailok. "It was independently authenticated by two leading experts. We have absolutely no doubt that [it] is as described," a spokesman told Muslim News.